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Matthew 23:27-28 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
When Jesus talks about “whitewashed tombs,” he’s not talking about a beautification project. Instead, he is referring to the practice of painting graves with a lime-and-water mixture in order to make them easier to see—and avoid. Repainting tombs was typically done shortly before Passover, when thousands of foreigners would descend on Jerusalem. If the graves were not well marked, pilgrims might inadvertently touch them, becoming ceremonially unclean and unable to enter the temple.
For the scribes and Pharisees, the messages couldn’t be clearer: The appearance of righteousness isn’t enough. What matters is the content of your heart.
MOVING FORWARD: Is there something you’ve whitewashed over? How can you and Jesus clean this up and clear it out?
Today the Church remembers Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino, c. 540.