Tuesday, August 23, 2016

“How would your life be different if…You approached all relationships with authenticity and honesty? Let today be the day…

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst nothen be false to any man. – (from Hamlet), by William Shakespeare

Gospel Text: (MT 23:23-26)
Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin,
and have neglected the weightier things of the law:
judgment and mercy and fidelity.
But these you should have done, without neglecting the others.
Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
so that the outside also may be clean.”

There are a few things that come to mind as we reflect on Jesus’ admonishment to the scribes and the Pharisees. One is the reminder to resist the temptation to focus on the shortcomings of the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus’ words are meant as a caution to us! So often we can be tempted to focus on the small stuff as a way to demonstrate our superiority over others, or as a way to avoid the real issues with which we need to grapple. There are so many challenges facing people today, and we need to explore ways to help them live their lives with integrity as we strive to do the same.

Another thing is to reflect on what Jesus means by being “frauds.” Jesus is not saying “Woe” to them because they fell short of perfection. We all do. If I am judged as being a fraud or a hypocrite because I haven’t perfectly followed Jesus, then, yes, I admit to being a fraud. But I don’t think falling short constitutes being a fraud. Jesus says “Woe” to the scribes and the Pharisees because they were so quick to condemn others for falling short.

Recognizing our own weaknesses and sins, we can’t condemn others for not being perfect. Instead, may we turn to God, who, in the words of our first reading from 2 Thessalonians, “loved us and in his mercy gave us eternal consolation and hope.” And may God console our “hearts and strengthen them for every good work and word.”

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