Jesus was able to relate well with every sort of person in his day.  He won sinners over and awed the unbelieving.  People took him easily into their hearts.  He thrived with the strangest of all companions – prostitutes, tax collectors, the poor and the sick.  But there was one group of people who remained a thorn in his flesh – the Pharisees.

The gospel writers often painted very bad images of Pharisees.  They were always trying to catch Jesus off guard, to humiliate him, to have him eradicated.  And this, we can see again in the gospel today.  The Pharisees set out to trap Jesus in his speech.  They started out with sweet words:  “we know you are a truthful man.” Behind those words lay the trap of demolishing Jesus by his own words.  Jesus uncovered their duplicity and insincerity.

In the Philippines, we have a term for these people – good towards you when you are present, but attacking you from behind. Flattering you with kind words only to destroy you in the end. Double-faced people – doble-cara.

In the Pharisees insincerity is conspicuous.  It has affected their mind. It has poisoned their hearts and turned them into men of deception.  And we should know, this kind of relationship accomplishes nothing.  If you are just playing games with God – pretending to pray, to worship, to follow him and yet not intending in a real surrender – then you better cut off your stunt.  Jesus knows your act.  He saw that already in the Pharisees. You are doble-cara indeed.

This is also true in our relationship with each other. If we appear before our spouses as honest but in reality hiding the truth of infidelity; if we seem in the office as dutiful but are really lazy; if we deceive our parents into believing our lies; if we befriend people only to get favors; if we preach one thing and live contrary to our words – we are like the insincere Pharisees. God will not trust you.  And anyone who uncovers your lies will withhold from you their trust and friendship.

The Pharisees lost the chance of a lifetime, that of becoming the friends of Jesus. They lost the chance of gaining salvation. When we fall into the trap of duplicity, of insincerity, we truly hurt others. But more than that, we destroy our own integrity.  We become a “user.”  We “use” others and “abuse” their trust. We lose our very souls.

I know a man in high office who was surrounded by so many “supporters and friends.”  He listened to them and trusted only them.  But one day, he discovered that he was merely being used by his “supporters” to further their own agenda. He fired them all and he regretted why he fell into their scheme. And they also regretted their insincerity and hypocrisy.

None of us today will consciously endeavor to be like the Pharisees in their insincerity.  But let us look again at how we relate to the people around us. Are we truly honest?  Are we trustworthy?  Do we reveal who we truly are?

Let us pray that the Lord will give us the grace to shun the temptation of becoming insincere so that our relationships – with God and with each other will be full of meaning and fruitfulness.