In today’s Gospel we encounter Jesus in the home of a Pharisee, one of the scrupulous observers of the law who constantly try to discredit Jesus and his ministry. Jesus confronts the Pharisee, calling him out for an empty faith, full of appearances. Jesus scolds him for using religious practices, like the washing of one’s hands before a meal, to mask the “plunder and evil” that corrupt them from within. So focused on themselves and “looking good”, the Pharisees forgot about the commandment to love God and neighbor.

How is God challenging me to not be constricted by a religion of appearances and instead embrace an authentic, radical faith in the God of Life?

This encounter is an invitation to downward mobility. To embrace our faith humbly, not ostentatiously, building people up and never reprimanding them for their perceived lack of faith or of certain religious practices.

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.