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Father Muench Says...

‘Times when I have been hypocritical’

September 2, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today I celebrated the morning daily Mass. The Gospel reading was from St. Matthew’s Gospel. In this reading Jesus criticized the Scribes and Pharisees calling them hypocrites. Jesus notices that these religious leaders concentrated on what they considered important for the way the people lived while neglecting what Jesus considered were more important in life: proper judgment, mercy and fidelity.

I am certain that these Scribes and Pharisees were annoyed – even angry – to be called hypocrites by Jesus. I would imagine you would be angry also to be considered a hypocrite. Now I must speak for myself here: I want to confess to you that there are too many times when I have been hypocritical. Jesus would certainly call me a hypocrite.

I preach at Mass, and I tell you about how to live a good Christian life. I suspect I have sounded a bit holy. However, I know that out there on the street, I have had times when I have lost my cool. I know I have had times when I didn’t act very Christian. Added to that, I know I have missed opportunities to do something for others. I have truly been a hypocrite. I have acted like one of those Scribes or Pharisees.

Now in this regard I will let you judge yourself. My effort to solve this in my life is to bring my Lord Jesus more completely into my life. I know that I must strengthen my faith. I must make myself completely alive to the Lord, who will lead and guide me.

This means that I must allow my payers to lead me into the darkness to find Our Savior, Jesus. I must continue to bring Jesus into my heart and life. Yes, I have done this often. I have tried to pray to bring Jesus into the silence of my heart, and I have found peace with the Lord. Yet, I know only too well that there have been too many times I have become busy and distracted, and I’ve truly left Jesus out. My prayers have only been words and have not opened myself to the Lord. These are times when I have become a hypocrite, times when someone would not recognized that I was a Christian, that I was a priest.

I know only too well that I need Jesus. I need the Lord to be a constant part of my life. This will mean that I need more than just speaking a few prayers. This is the time that I must redevelop my relationship with the Lord. I must renew my friendship with Jesus. I need him as a friend and a guide to show me the way.

I believe that each and every day, the Lord places opportunities in my life, opportunities that are challenges for me from the Lord to bring God’s love, mercy and peace to those who need God and, in this moment, need me.

These action may be small, they may be ordinary, yet the Lord knows that – at this moment – this may be the way for me to make this world a better, happier place.

This week the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Augustine who is one of the great Bishops and theologians of our Church, I want to share with you this prayer from “The Confessions of St. Augustine.” “I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is also God, supreme over all things and blessed forever.”

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