“Woe”

Luke 11:37-54

As Jesus headed to Jerusalem, he was not just a do-gooder, healing and helping people in distress.  Nor was he only engaging his followers, people who were on the same wavelength as him.  In the last half of chapter 11 of Luke, Luke shares about Jesus eating in the home of a Pharisee.  We often think of the Pharisees as the bad guys but here we see Jesus reaching out.  I suspect it is a bit like a Democrat sitting down to dine with a bunch of Republicans.  The host noted that Jesus did not follow the ritual of washing his hands and asked Jesus about it.  Jesus had his toe in the door to talk.        Jesus honestly talks with the man about all the customs that divided people into good and bad categories and create walls and accusations.  For example, eating with dirty hands must point to a disregard for law. Jesus was able to challenge the guests to deeper thinking.  Perhaps it would not be dissimilar to having a heart to heart with someone who doesn’t wear a mask.  Honest exchanges need not mean hostile exchanges but often they become just that, relationship breakers.

         Jesus tackled ways in which we are hypocritical.  Jesus points out that there is a difference between the outer facades we present and inner realities of which we are, forms vs. intent.  Looking holy is different than being holy.  Tithing to promote a cause if we live unjustly is pointless.  The goal is not just creating laws to avoid punishment but to create systems that promote health and justice.  Seeking honor but not being honorable doesn’t work.  When we live in a disingenuous way, we bring woe on ourselves.

         Lent is a time when we reflect on our spiritual journey.  It is a time when we ask ourselves tough questions.  Are there ways that I try to wash up, either myself or my situations, to make myself appear better than I know I am?  Are there tithes I give to look good but forget to act justly?  How do I play the phony?  That’s a tough question that might be worth pondering, confessing and seeking to straighten out in my life.  Lent is about more than refusing chocolate or candy but it is looking deeper into those issues that bring woe to others, to ourselves, and to our God.  It’s not easy but in the end woe isn’t either. Blessings as you reflect.

         Here is our Lenten challenge, for that jar to give to a charity after Easter: “More children die from had water and poor sanitation than from hunger.  Give 25 cents for every faucet in your house.”

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