It’s so easy to look around and find the scribes and Pharisees of our own day. I have done this often myself. I can argue for a better ecclesiology than some that are emphasized, or which rules should take precedence over others. I may even be right in what I’m arguing.

As a theologian I certainly believe there is a place for such deliberations and that these discussions are important. At the same time, today’s Gospel challenges us in two ways. First, rather than pointing fingers, maybe we should consider the ways in which we might be the scribes and the Pharisees. Is there any way in which Paul’s “woes” are aimed at us? (Certainly not!) Second, how can we rise above such discussions in our day-to-day practice of our faith and in the evangelization we are called to?

Pope Francis has given us a great model so far.  In his first several months as Pope, he seems to be following his namesake’s famous quote: “Preach the gospel; use words only when necessary.” Such an adage may lessen the rhetoric and Pharisaic moments and help us all live out the Gospel and preach it more fully.