I see the over-arching theme in today’s Bible readings as honesty.
In Reading 1, Moses said to the people of Israel: “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2) Not add to, nor take away from his words is Moses’ pledge for the people’s honesty.
Reading 2 echoes the message by saying: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (James 1:22)
In the Gospel, Jesus quoted from Isaiah, saying: “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: `THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.’” (Mark 7:6) Of course, to be hypocrites who honors Jesus with their lips but not their heart is being dishonest.
Being dishonest with other is not right, but to me being dishonest with ourselves, something James 1:22 warns us against, is far more dangerous. It is so easy for us to fool ourselves into thinking that we are fair and just, we are doing our best, and all that, and then we feel good about ourselves.
I am sure that the Pharisees and scribes that Jesus was so critical about also saw themselves as being in the right and feeling good about themselves. But maybe deep down they knew, as Jesus did, that they were just “deluding themselves”.