Of Pharisees and Lawyers

Luke 11: 42-46
Gal 5:18-25 / Psa 1:1-4,6

There will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good . . . There is no partiality with God.
(Romans 2:10-11)

Those seats of honor in high places
Will never put us in God’s graces.
Nor man-made laws can guarantee
Man’s passage to eternity.

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.” One of the experts in the law answered Him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.” Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. Then one of the lawyers present reacted: “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” So Jesus included them in His condemnation: “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift a finger to help them.”

Reflection

By exalting themselves, the proud consign themselves to oblivion, like forgotten graves, dishonored by trodding feet. But those who conduct their affairs with humility will be “loved more than a giver of gifts, for the more humble you are, the greater you will be in the eyes of God and man. For great is the power of God; by the humble He is glorified.” (Sirach 4: 17-19)

In the case of lawyers and judges, or the so-called ‘scholars of the law’, they share the burden of guilt, as most of them love to muddle the affairs of men with laws they themselves craft and interpret for their own benefit. Truth and Justice are often sacrificed in the salas of legalistic manipulations and compromises.

My elder brother is a judge whose integrity and forthrightness I admire. So was my father-in-law. There are also many lawyers in our running club and brotherhood that we hold in high esteem. But every now and then one meets a ‘practical professional’ of the law who would rather use connections than true merits as a leverage to win a case. Like the trial lawyer I once met. He was from out of town and had a case being tried in one of the local courts. He was gloating with confidence that day because according to him, by the use of hand signals, he discovered that he and the judge trying his case belonged to the same “brotherhood”. I was incredulous and bluntly asked, “You mean your ‘brotherhood’ places connections above justice and the law?” I hoped it would not take him long to realize that he had not only given the word “brotherhood” a bad name, but had put his profession in a bad light.

Lord, grant us the grace to realize that there is no substitute for what is honest, just, and moral, and no amount of human laws crafted by the most brilliant minds can ever change even one letter of these timeless values of Your Divine Law. May Your greatest law of love rule our lands now and forever. Amen.

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