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Tuesday 21 May |
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Are you living the hell of constant masks?

kobieta nakłada maskę na twarz

Kiselev Andrey Valerevich | Shutterstock

Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 08/22/22

Hypocrisy is a punishment we give ourselves.

Today’s readings can be found here.

The harsh words that Jesus directs to the scribes and Pharisees are not only pertinent to them, because the Gospel of Matthew is careful to specify that Jesus expressly says, “scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.” Hypocrisy is the problem, not their social or religious status.

While on one hand Jesus disputes the interpretation of the law that they teach, at the same time he knows well that among the scribes and Pharisees there are good and loyal people who sincerely believe, despite whatever more or less mistaken interpretations they might have of our relationship with God.

But today’s words take head-on hypocrisy, the attitude that makes us live behind a façade, that prioritizes appearances, that thinks that by observing the formalities we also comply with the substance.

Those who live behind certain masks harm not only themselves, but also others, because they close off to them the road that leads to an authentic experience of God:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.”

Authenticity is the opposite of hypocrisy. If hypocrisy means living behind a mask, authenticity means taking off the mask and showing our face.

Jesus today is telling us that we can only stand before God if we lay down our masks; otherwise we’re in big trouble–not because he threatens us with punishment, but because it’s already hell having to play-act throughout our entire life without ever being able to be ourselves.


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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