Daily Archives: November 4, 2023

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

4 November 2023

Reflecting on Matthew 23: 1-12

Jesus has much to say about the religious authorities whose hyper-vigilant attendance to the Law was choking the beauty and grace from the covenant God made with the Jews.

Jesus hits the nail on the head today when he tells the crowd to do what they are told, but not what they see the “teachers” doing. Oh, boy. Matthew’s gospel remembers Jesus saying, many times, “Go and learn the meaning of mercy, not sacrifice (9:9-13). He is MERCY. The Pharisees are SACRIFICE.

I read a piece by a Denver physician in response to someone asking if doctors worry about their patients when they go home at night. She recounted a story about one time when she got a call after hours about a patient. She was shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods when the hospice nurse called, saying that her dying patient was having breakthrough pain. She needed to fax a prescription for increased pain medication stat.

She asked the clerk for the nearest fax machine. The clerk left her station and the two of them raced to the basement of the store, to the warehouse office. She faxed the prescription, and within minutes the patient was out of pain, with his grateful family at his side.

Did the clerk at Dick’s take a Hippocratic oath to serve humanity? Would the doctor have been within her vows to go home and fax the prescription there? For me, to willfully ignore the person in front of me who needs care is to be a hypocrite, which is the opposite, curiously, of the word Hippocratic. Doctors, and clerks, and train drivers, and parents, are never hypocrites when compassion, not rule-following, is their guiding star.

What individuals can you think of whose compassion inspires you?

Kathy McGovern ©2023