Readings: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20; Psalm 49; Matthew 23:1-12
Is it hypocritical to go on preaching the gospel if you do not practise it? It would seem so. However, Jesus' judgement of the Pharisees is not exactly that. Although 'they preach but do not practise' Jesus says that the people should still listen to what they say, and follow their teaching, but not follow their practice.
What about teachers in the Church? We can apply the same judgement to them (to us). A wise older friend once put it to me this way: if we only preach what we practise then we will not preach the gospel for who among us lives the gospel in its fulness? We must go on preaching the gospel accepting always that the first listener to our preaching, the first target of our call to live the gospel way, is ourselves.
Where people sincerely struggle with their weaknesses they can speak, sometimes even more powerfully, about the gospel (after all, the heart of the gospel is mercy). But who among us can claim to be sincere ('without wax' is its literal meaning) authentic and genuine through and through? Which of us does not have something of the hypocrite, some pretence, some mask, some moral weakness, that we try to cover up with false confidence?