Whitewashed Tombs: Public Persona vs. The Real Person

Credit: ANSA/OSSERVATORE ROMANO

Very often we form opinions of people by what we see, we “judge a book by its cover” as the cliché says. When God sees us he looks directly into our hearts; he is unswayed by the color of our skin, the manner of our dress, or the image we like others to see. In Matthew 23:27-28, Jesus exposes this truth when he addresses scribes and Pharisees:

You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

From time-to-time it’s good for us to consider the disparity between what we like others to think and what they really are. Often the public persona we display for others is different from the person we really are. When we do this we exhibit the duplicity that Our Lord castigated in the scribes and Pharisees. The goal of Christian living is authenticity. Jesus praised the authenticity of Nathaniel, “There is no duplicity in him” (John 1:47) even after Nathaniel wondered “if anything good could from Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

Sometimes confessors greet the penitent with: “May the grace of the Holy Spirit fill your heart with light, that you may confess your sins with loving trust and come to know that God is merciful.” This greeting is a sort of prayer which invites the penitent to look at himself honestly so that he may confess his sins with true sorrow. A sincere confession has the benefit of bringing about true unity, true authenticity, eliminating duplicity in a person so that he can see himself as he is, as God sees him.

May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts so that we do not become whitewashed tombs!

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1 Comment

  1. Mary Traill says: Reply

    Insightful thank you

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