Words on the Word
Given the crises the Church has to negotiate right now, the Gospel’s woe to hypocrites is not a vain statement. Hypocrites are people resigned to a discontinuity between what they say and what they do. They are divided against themselves and thereby sapped of inner strength. You do not readily find a joyful hypocrite. The Gospel, meanwhile, would restore us to strength and joy. Christ, the Logos incarnate, assures us that we can by grace embody the word we proclaim as truth and meaning. Our lives can become truthful, meaningful. St Monica, that redoubtable woman, was someone with a keen eye for others’ incoherences of life. She would have no truck with these, but she did believe they could be remedied. She assisted this healing by two strategies. She prayed. And she waited. How badly we would like the ugliness that surrounds us at the moment simply to pass! The purification, however, will take time. Let us also arm ourselves with the weapons of prayer and patience. In today’s collect we pledge to ‘bitterly regret our sins’ in the hope of the grace of God’s pardon. Now, St Monica was ready to carry her share of sins she had not committed; that is what it is to be part of the mystical body; that is what it is to follow the Lamb of God, not only when he sits in his banqueting halls but wherever he goes. Let’s stick close to him, then, and let’s never lose hope in his ability to make the bitter sweet, to make rough places plain.