Creative and encouraging reflection and conversation about life, family, faith and laughter.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Justice, Mercy and Faith
Jesus said, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ How blind you are! 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 sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.” Matthew 23:13-26
I watched (on-line) as many friends stood outside of an immigrant detention center in Texas. Our Presiding Bishop spoke and the people sang and shouted messages of love and support for the women inside. I was sad not to be among their number on Sunday and am grateful for their faith witness to the need for justice and mercy. Events like these remind me how easy it is to be swept up with crowd protesting, how much harder it is in our daily lives to be justice, mercy and faith embodied.
Jesus us is giving to the religious leaders and scholars of his day. They lived by the word of law but not by it's spirit. They loved parading around and looking pious. They thought themselves better than others. They lived lives of speaking faith but not doing it. They took advantage of the poor and lowly, horded wealth and comfort while thousands suffered nearby. They were greedy, self-indulgent and often cruel. They knew they were right, so they felt emboldened to crush others who were not like them. We too can fall into self-indulgent and self-righteous traps. Following Jesus demands we examine our blind spots daily.
Today I ask God to help me act for justice, mercy and love in every breath I take. May we look beyond our selfish need for attention so that we can see those who are in need of attention to live, right here among us!