Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like unto whitewashed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Read Chapter 23
George Leo Haydock
Whitened sepulchres. The Jews, lest they should be defiled with touching the sepulchres, whitened them on the outside, in order to distinguish them. But this exterior whiteness, covering interior corruption, was a genuine picture of the pharisaical character. But these men, says St. Gregory, can have no excuse before the severe judge at the last day; for, whilst they show to the view of mankind so beautiful an appearance of virtue, by their very hypocrisy they demonstrate that they are not ignorant how to live well. (Moral. xxvi.)
Tell me, you hypocrite, what pleasure there is in wickedness? why do you not wish to be what you wish to appear? What it is beautiful to appear, is beyond a doubt more beautiful to be. Be therefore what you appear, or appear what you really are. (St. John Chrysostom)
After this, He again derides them for vainglory, calling them whited sepulchers, Matthew 23:27 and unto all adding, ye hypocrites; which thing is the cause of all their evils, and the origin of their ruin. And He did not merely call them whited sepulchers, but said, that they were full of uncleanness and hypocrisy. And these things He spoke, indicating the cause wherefore they did not believe, because they were full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
But these things not Christ only, but the prophets also constantly lay to their charge, that they spoil, that their rulers judge not according to the rule of justice, and every where you may find the sacrifices indeed refused, but these things required. So that there is nothing strange, nothing new, neither in the lawgiving, nor in the accusation, nay not even in the comparison of the sepulchre. For the prophet makes mention thereof, neither did he call them merely a sepulchre, but their throat an open sepulchre.
Such are many men now also, ...