After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
11:37 Pharisee The Pharisees were Jewish religious authorities (not priests) who promoted strict adherence to the law of Moses. Luke’s reference to teachers of the law probably is synonymous with the group mentioned in Luke 5:21.
11:38 did not observe Washing one’s hands before eating is not required in the law of Moses, but was part of the Pharisees’ tradition (see Matt 15:2).
11:39 cleanse the outside Jesus contrasts external purity (proper behavior) with internal cleansing (transformation of the heart).
Friends, Jesus concludes today’s Gospel by prescribing giving alms as a key to holiness. I’ve quoted to you before some of the breathtaking remarks of saints and popes about almsgiving: Leo XIII says, “Once the demands of necessity and propriety have been met, the rest of your money belongs to the poor.” John Chrysostom says, “The man who has two shirts in his closet, one belongs to him; the other belongs to the man who has no shirt.”
The deepest root of all of this is in the prophets, who continually rail against those who are indifferent to the poor. The prophets teach us that compassion is key to biblical ethics, feeling the pain of others in our own hearts. We’re not dealing with an abstract Aristotelian moral philosophy, but rather with something more visceral.
This is precisely why the two great commandments are so tightly linked: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…and love your neighbor as yourself.” In loving God you feel the feelings of God, and God is compassionate to the poor and oppressed. That’s all the argument that a biblical person needs.
– Bishop Robert Barron