Tuesday, August 25, 2009

time to remodel

Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin, 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.” ~~Mt 23:23-26

Remember when you were a kid and the teacher really ‘gave it’ to some kid—or group of kids—who really deserved it?! Didn’t you sit there in your chair and secretly (or not so secretly!) smile, feeling rather smug that you’d witnessed justice-in-action? It so often goes the other way that it’s nice when the “bad” guys get their due.

What am I saying? Even as adults, we rather enjoy watching our powerful enemies step in their own traps, embarrassed or brought to shame by excesses or crimes. So to have someone of Jesus’ impeccable reputation chastise the scribes and Pharisees in that way must have been satisfying for his audience.

And yet, I read—or heard—somewhere once that we’re always supposed to put ourselves into every situation in Scripture; that in order to derive maximum benefit from the stories and situations, we have to imagine ourselves capable of every sin committed.

We cannot view the scribes and Pharisees as “other” but that we are them.

Jesus is talking to us.
To me.
I am blind.
I am full of plunder and self-indulgence.
I am in need of cleaning, first on the inside.

Jesus’ harsh admonition in today’s Gospel is a personal invitation to ‘remodel’ ourselves ... myself from the inside out.

I know I have some serious work to do, but with His help, it can be done. He knows my Pharisaical insides and yet He loves me even so. Jesus’ words sound harsh, but just think how beautiful something is after it is remodeled—from the inside out. He alone can do that, because He alone KNOWS me.

It was no coincidence the Responsorial Psalm today is 139. Listen to these beautiful words and be filled with Hope, Joy and Peace:

R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know the whole of it.
Behind me and before, you hem me in
and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
too lofty for me to attain.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.

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