“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.” ― William Faulkner: (1897 – 1962: was an American writer and Nobel Prize laureate from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner wrote novels, short stories, a play, poetry, essays, and screenplays.)
Gospel Text: (LK 11:42-46)
The Lord said:
“Woe to you Pharisees!
You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb,
but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God.
These you should have done, without overlooking the others.
Woe to you Pharisees!
You love the seat of honor in synagogues
and greetings in marketplaces.
Woe to you!
You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.”
Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply,
“Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.”
And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law!
You impose on people burdens hard to carry,
but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”
In today’s Gospel we see a stern and courageous Jesus who, in modern terms, is “speaking truth to power.” In our daily lives, it’s hard enough to confront family, friends or political leaders when the truth has become cloudy, much less take a stand that could put our life in jeopardy!
Luke’s Chapter 11 begins with the Pharisees and Scholars of Law “amazed” that Jesus does not follow the prescribed ritual of washing before the meal. “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.” Jesus speaks very piercing words, especially to powerful leaders of the Jewish community, but He speaks them from a place of righteous anger. Jesus goes on to hold the Scholars of the Law accountable for their public expressions of respect in building monuments to the prophets even while they will secretly plot to take away their very lives. That is the fate that awaits Jesus, the contemporary prophet in their midst.
Hypocrisy has no place in the world of Jesus. Outward but empty expressions of piety are without worth, and even worse are the attempts by those who should know better to distract people and bar them from genuinely seeking the truth.
In our nation and world today, there are untruths, stories and claims buzzing around us like flies. The truth seems so elusive. How do we hold on and go forward from a place of authenticity? How do we not “buy-in” to the pretenses that seem so prevalent?
Our inner truth, our “true north,” comes from God through Jesus and is enlivened by the Holy Spirit. And it is from that divine compass that we find our own strength to remain honest with ourselves and others, and to speak truth to power wherever in our life that is needed.