Beware means keeping clear of a deadly threat, keeping away from danger, being watchful, being careful.
Beware, then, of the scribes, the theologians and biblical scholars of that time, the experts of the Holy Law. Beware of those who, because of their social class, hierarchy or status, walk through the squares, showing off their long robes in order to be recognized and to receive the people's nods and greetings. Beware of those who choose places of honor in the temples and at feasts and ceremonial banquets. Beware of those who recite lengthy prayers in public only to show off. Beware of those persons because they devour the poor, widows, and peoples struggling to survive. Beware of those persons because they will be severely condemned.
Beware of all of these and keep away from them as if they were pure poison. That is Jesus' message.
Of course we are not compelled to listen to and put into practice Jesus' Word, but in this case humanity seems to have taken to heart Jesus' message and tried to practice it with all the zeal and commitment it could.
Perhaps there is no other Word recited by the Master that has ever been taken so seriously and coherently.
There is no public place without a statue of one of the characters that Jesus said to keep away from. There is no history book that does not present the story of those people Jesus said were dangerous for mankind. Much of literature and epic stories were written to tell us the story of the lives and loves, wars and betrayals of those people. Books, medals, busts, paintings, effigies, tales, statues, were created to make known and popular the ones who wear long robes and rich clothing, those who recite lengthy prayers, and fast publicly, experts of divine and human law, those who occupy places of honor in temples and conferences, parliaments and banquets, ceremonies and parades. The successful, the wealthy, those who take advantage of the poor and devour the weak. Devour is the verb that God used for the ones who make take advantage of the por and slaughter entire nations, and yet are greeted as saviours. We make public display of those Jesus told us to beware of. The TV and the media are full of their faces, their long robes, their villas, their parties, their yachts and cars, their loves and betrayals, their bank accounts. Those who have places of honor fill up magazines, newspapers, TV shows, books, movies. And those are the ones who slaughter the little ones, the helpless, the silent poor.
We tried to be faithful to Jesus' Word, but without being aware of it, we made a mistake in what we read. Jesus said: beware of them. Perhaps, instead, and in good faith we read: look at them.