Read after the Liturgy's Bible On Thursday, the Fifth Week of the Great Lent
By St. John Chrysostom (The Golden Mouth)
Read after the Liturgy's Bible
On Thursday, the Fifth Week of the Great Lent
Includes a defamation of adulation and hypocrites; Inspired by His telling the synagogue leader: “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?” (Luke 13: 10-17)
While Christ may He be glorified was teaching in the Jewish synagogues, explaining what the prophets said in their prophecies and interpreting the symbols to the attendance, a Jewish woman from Abraham’s children passed by. She had been crippled for eighteen years and came to the synagogue to listen to God’s words and their explanation. She looked pitiful for she was bent over and could not straighten up and look at the skies. Jesus saw her, called her and set her free from the devil’s ties. She immediately straightened up and praised God. The synagogue’s leader got upset and told the attendees: “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath” and the Lord said: “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”.
From this chapter dear beloved, we should learn four things:
First: God sometimes permits that the devil combats the humans, either for the sake of materialistic and momentary retribution (1 Corinthians 5:5) or salvation from the evil of spiritual pride (2 Corinthians 12:7) or as a test (1 Kings : 1-22). The latter applies to the crippled woman as her problem was a test, for she was a pious believer. Her faith and piousness made the Lord call her the daughter of Abraham. She used to go to the house of God on a regular basis to listen to teaching every Saturday. This is why she got a great benediction and abundant relief for she saw the Savior and He healed her with His pure hands, in addition to Him telling her: “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity”.
Second: God can soften the heart of some people and reform their will which had been inclined for more than 18 years to enjoying the bodily pleasures and committing sins. He who sees himself to be like this should come in complete faith and pure repentance to perform the necessary rituals such as confession, communion and others. He shall heal him from all diseases, illnesses and weaknesses.
Third: the order to respect the day of the Lord does not mean abstaining from performing any necessary acts of mercy like visiting the sick, seeing the detained ones and anything needed to save the life of a human being. Saturday had been imposed for the good of men and his rest and not to harm him. All in all, God does not ask us not to do anything that may serve for the good of people, either on Saturdays or any other day.
Fourth: Hypocrisy is detested as it harms its author and brings him lots of shame for it is a great sin. Therefore the apostle says that the Master reprimanded the synagogue leader for his hypocrisy by saying: “You hypocrites!” He distinguished this woman by her being a descendant of Abraham not for it is an honorable relation but he recalled this because of her faith for He: “accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:35).
Hypocrisy then is an ugly thing and it is a major sin for it comes from cunning and breeds lies, greed and the like. The hypocrite is the one who says something and wants another. You find that what he says is vague and bears a double meaning. When asked about something, he gives fake answers and if you ask him to do something for you, he answers gladly in a way that makes you think your request has been answered as you wish. You feel reassured and no longer care about yourself, while trusting that he will take care of it. You do not know then that he is a hypocrite who does not what he says. You end up suffering losses and harm.
The hypocrites taint their evil doings with piousness. They pretend to give to charity, fast and pray a lot. They criticize others while pretending to be jealous for the religious laws. The smart and aware one however knows very well that they only do this so that people may glorify them. As the Master, may He be glorified, said to the hypocrite teachers of the law and the Pharisees that: “Everything they do is done for people to see” (Matthew 23:5). They also may do it to gain the respect of others or get them to love them as those who invented heresies and put on the costumes of the saints men of God. They imitated the prophets until they got a lot of ignorant people to lose their path and submitted them to their power so that they may enjoy momentary goods.
In these days, we find a lot of them who are quite obvious as they put the robes of hypocrisy in front of people. Listen to what the Master says about them: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation” (Matthew 23:14).
The hypocrites seem like loving friends just like the devil had taken the form of a snake and they trick people with lies and deceit just like what the devil did with Adam and Eve. They are many now and are called politicians. They lie, deceive and invoke harm upon the simple people in a very competent and perfect manner. This is quite normal for the first lesson that man has learnt was about the devil. (Genesis 3:1-19).
The one whose enemy is a hypocrite should be careful and not be deceived by his soft talk. He greets you like a loved one and shakes your hand like a friend but in his heart he carried all the evil and adversity. His yes is a no and his no a yes. This is the fruit of the devil’s teachings, thus disobeying what the Book says: “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).
Hypocrisy has invaded the world and here it is pushing piousness away until it almost erases it from existence. The evidence is what we see and hear every day from the incidents resulting from doubt and wrong assumptions. The master doubts his servant and the friend his companion. The husband makes wrong assumptions about his wife and the father about his son. All in all, hypocrisy has torn apart the ties, thus resulting is discordance of opinions, hearts and souls.
Hypocrites commit such detested acts in general for the sake of greed and ugly gains. Take the example of Judas Iscariot whose heart was thinking of theft when he asked that the perfume be sold (John 12:6). He kissed his Master pretending to love Him while he had agreed to deliver Him (Luke 22: 47-48). He accordingly deserved lots of cursing by the prophet who said: “let an accuser stand at his right hand.When he is tried, let him be found guilty,and may his prayers condemn him. May his days be few;may another take his place of leadership… For he never thought of doing a kindness,but hounded to death the poor…He loved to pronounce a curse - may it come back on him.He found no pleasure in blessing - may it be far from him” (Psalm 109: 6-19).
We should then have a simple heart and keep our tongue pure from hypocrisy and flattery. We should be true to our sayings and righteous in our doings so that we may win the Kingdom of Heavens, with the blessing and compassion of our Savior, may He be glorified forever, amen.