Jesus finishes his talk in the Temple in Jerusalem and tension is building that will erupt in “crucify him” on Good Friday. Jesus does not mince words but predicts woes to religious leaders and people who are disingenuous. Woe is defined in the dictionary as “a condition of deep suffering from misfortune, affliction, or grief or ruinous trouble, calamity, affliction.” When we are disingenuous, it backfires and we suffer. We might ask ourselves during this Lenten season how we might be disingenuous. Jesus points out certain ways:
· Requiring a code of behavior of others that we don’t abide by.
· Critiquing details of actions and missing the big picture.
· Shallow morality that appears right but misses the point of the practice, for example tithing to impress others.
· Living an outward show of morality while having secret “addictions” that are indulged in privately, for example pornography.
· Distancing yourself from ancestor’s faults that you know is potentially part of your life, for example alcoholism.
Jesus sums it up by condemning religious leaders who are hypocrites.
We may not be a religious leader or a governmental leader. We may not even consider ourselves as leaders at all but often we do not realize who all is watching us. I think of looking at posts on FaceBook and all the people who tap, like or dislike. But I do not think Jesus is talking about popularity or approval but about congruence between what we believe and how we live and our terrible habit of criticizing or judging others. He is saying that woe comes to people who do not walk the talk and who use their talk to hurt others.
Given we are in Lent, let us think of a couple of compliments we might give to people today to build up and not tear down the person. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will show us ways in which we are not genuine and that we need to ask God’s assistance to overcome. May we rid ourselves of the beam in our own eye before we try to pick out the speck in another