21 Week, Wednesday: August 26

We worked day and night.
By the time, I’m up in the morning, I see Simon from the state of Orissa cleaning up the cowshed after milking the cows and tying them on trees to graze around. Then he takes care of the farm. When I gave him a cap one day to protect him from the merciless sun, he was overjoyed. That was the first time he had a hat on his head! He was sending all his earnings regularly to take care of his old parents. To work hard and earn a living was so part of his genes, it looked like.  
 When COVID struck India and thousands of migrant workers have to return to their home states from New Delhi where they worked at constructions or as domestic hands. With no transportation available and with their kids and belongings to lug along they walked hundreds of kilometers to get home. It was a pitiable sight. For a pittance of pay these people crave for work, because their only ambition in life is to support their families. Merciless masters, scorching sun, pittance of pay and  pathetic living conditions wouldn’t deter them from seeking work. These millions of people here and elsewhere carry out Paul’s advice with enthusiasm and gratitude.
Preoccupation with the coming end of the world led to a general “laziness” among some Christians as their interest in secular affairs fell to a zero point. The effort to achieve justice, to spread the Gospel, to seek interior renewal, to pattern their daily lives on the Lord Jesus were all placed on "hold" as they awaited His return to set everything right. This is a negative side-effect of excessive speculation about the "last things."

Paul did not want to be a burden on the young community, and therefore he worked arduously to provide for himself and never asked for anything from the community.
It happens in life that some people are continually dependent on others for their needs, and the word work finds little resonance in their lives. They have never found their own way and have no desire to do so.
Unfortunately, there are those who encourage such listlessness by providing for the needs of such people. Whether it be simply lack of motivation or some sort of mental illness, there are people who pass from childhood to adulthood and never leave home.
A work ethic is a commendable part of one’s character. It provides for self and family but should never become the controlling factor in life. Rest and relaxation are essential ingredients of the good life. We want to be active and productive and not those who are unhealthily dependent on others. To fail to carry our burden in life is what Paul would designate “disorderly conduct.” It falls short of what a Christian is called to be.
(@) If there is any relationship between laziness and hypocrisy, then it could be that one leads to the other. Laziness can be described as the tendency or inclina
tion to avoid activity or exertion or work despite the ability to do so. Hypocrisy can be described as the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs when it is not the case. In other words, it can be simply called a pretense. In the 1st reading, we heard St. Paul urging the community to keep away from those who refuse to work or to live according to the teachings of the faith. Those people refused to do any work because they thought that the Lord Jesus would be coming back any time so they decided to drop whatever they were doing and just sit around and wait.

So instead of working for their salvation trembling with fear, they preferred to do nothing and just keep waiting.

They may be telling others that they want to be focused on waiting for the Lord's return but in reality they may be just lazy and using faith as a pretense.

That may also be the case with the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus was addressing in the gospel. Hypocrisy is often used to cover up something else, and in this case it was the laziness to keep the discipline of the faith.
One can become so preoccupied with the world to come as to diminish any interest in the world in which we live. Zealots obsessed with the coming end of the world show little interest in human rights, corporate behavior, or morality in foreign or domestic policy. Paul never saw faith and hope in the Lord's coming as a rationale for neglecting our obligations in this world. In fact, Jesus' return as Judge requires a vibrant mission­ary zeal to transform and change our world in preparation for His coming. Paul's prescription that those who do not work should not eat was not the indictment of governmental social programs it is regrettably interpreted to be. It was, rather, intended as a corrective to that social lassitude deriving from excessively apocalyptic thinking.

Gospel Reading
It is the surest sign of wisdom to be able to distinguish what is right and what is wrong, when the two exist together; For instance, window dressing is right when it is meant to make the house more beautiful with flowers, colorful paints and a curtain. To make it look good is an act of charity. But when it is only a means to hide what is rotten inside, it is wrong. To use religion only 'as a facade, to give what is rotten a deceptive appearance, that is hypocrisy. The scribes and Pharisees do exactly this and even more. They erect monuments and preach about the prophets. Yet by the words of these very prophets, they stand condemned. It is they who murdered the prophets then and they are ready and on the point of murdering the prophet God has sent: Jesus. All this they do in the name of religion. 

Jesus criticizes the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and scribes as they romanticize and lament the faith of days gone by. He insists that faith in the present is the determining factor of our salvation. To lament a lost golden age or to project a golden future can shift attention from the holiness or sin of the "now." The Pharisees hymned ancient heroes and spoke of what might have been. Its a great temptation to project ourselves into an abstract past or to project ourselves into an unfinished future as a way of avoiding the changing complexity of the present. The judgment of the Lord is in the now.

Our guide should be the solid traditions of our faith, not private revelations. We probably agree with Jesus’ strong condemnation of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. But hypocrisy is still with us today. The whitewashing of tombs goes on, and from an individual corruption it has pervaded society itself. The wrongs of the state, and the Church too, are covered up. Injustices and exploitation are passed over in silence or are condemned in such general terms that even oppressors agree. We close our eyes and our consciences are undisturbed because we think we have no share in the evil that goes on. Our deeds do not match our words.

Let us pray: Just and merciful God, you know what is in us.
Forgive us that often we are so busy that we have no time to stop and look back to those who are too tired to follow. Forgive us that we condemn without having tried to understand. Let justice and mercy and service not be the business of others but our concern and our life on account of him who told us to look for him in others, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. God Bless.