After Jesus continues to call out those Pharisees who follow their own will and put themselves in the place of honor instead of God, one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.”
Jesus does not miss and beat and convicts the scholar as well when he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them” (Lk 11;45-46).
Jesus is clear about his mission, about what the kingdom of God is not and what it is. Jesus is shining a light on the practices of the Pharisees and the scholars of the law in the hope that they can see the darkness that is blinding them. Unfortunately, unlike Bartimaeus (see Mk 10:46-52) who knew he was blind and wanted to see, this is not true for these men who Jesus confronts in today’s Gospel.
How about us? As Jesus shines his light and love in our direction, do we cover our eyes because the light is too bright and withdraw further into the shadows or do we remain still and allow our eyes time to adjust so that the brightness of the Mystery of God will reveal to us that which has kept us bound? Will we justify, or rationalize our behavior or that of others that we know are sinful, or will we be transparent and walk further into the light and the embrace of Jesus, so to repent and believe in the Gospel?
We need to resist the path of those Pharisees and scholars of the Law who imposed heavy burdens on those seeking a relationship with the living God and instead be willing to follow Jesus and meet others where they are in the moment, so to accompany, encourage, and support each other in living the Gospel in our everyday lives. Hiding in the darkness, enslaved by our fears and prejudices, is no longer an option. Jesus beckons us to come out from the shadows and into the radiance of his light. As we experience his love and mercy, he encourages us to continue to move out of our comfort zones and complacency so that we may encounter others with the same love and mercy we have received.
In actuality, the prescriptions that Jesus places on us as his disciples are more challenging than those of the Pharisees and scribes. The difference is that what Jesus invites us to do, he will accompany us and give us the divine assistance to accomplish. What we need to remember is that it is Jesus working through us, not us doing it on our own. Apart from Jesus, we are nothing, but with Jesus all things are possible.