Thursday, December 8, 2011
Full of Woes
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Matthew 23:13-26
We spent the morning in doctor's offices, waiting in a rooms full of people who had lives filled with woe - injuries and illness, damages and accidents - all hoping for healing and a cure to their pain and frustrations. While the televisions blared, I looked around and wondered about the lives of the folks around me, and how easy it would be to overlook most of these folks. Yet they are loved by God, have families and friends that adore them, and despite their challenges are doing their best to live and thrive in their limited capacities.
Jesus challenged the religious leadership for their failure to care for the most needy among them, and for their greedy selfishness and small-minded legalistic attitudes, when God's love had always been a free gift to them and they had been entrusted with the care of others. Jesus is his most critical in these moments, when he sees those who have been so completely blessed being so oblivious and insensitive to the needs around them. We are entrusted by God with many gifts, but they are not our to keep, rather we are compelled to share and be kind and compassionate with everyone that God sends our direction.
Today, as the Christmas frenzy gets louder by the minute, I ask God to help me listen to those around me, see them as God sees them, and share the gifts I have been given with those God sends my way. May my life be one of walking humbling, doing justice and loving God and others with all my heart. May the pettiness and small mindedness of this world not stand in the way of God's love we have to share.