As one of my sidelines (it’s not really a hobby since I sometimes
get paid for it) I play guitar and sing Irish folk music. I recently
performed at the local renaissance faire. Saturday it rained, but Sunday
it was sunny and warm. Many of the performers, by the end of the day,
were starting to look pretty pink, and I admonished one or two to stay out
of the sun or to apply or reapply sunscreen, as it seemed they were heading
for a nasty burn. I was feeling pretty smug myself, having slathered
on quite a bit of SPF 45 before I came to the faire. But I forgot to
reapply during the course of the faire, and I completely neglected my feet.
At the end of the day I was pretty pink around my collar, and my feet were
badly burned on the toes and between the straps of my sandals. Even
though I was trying to be helpful to my fellow faire performers, I should
have taken care of my own skin as well.
The gospel today seems pretty harsh. Jesus calls his own
followers hypocrites and tells them to look to their own inadequacies before
they condemn others. He tells them to fix themselves before they’ll
be able to help others. But he seems to be saying that they should
fix themselves so they will be able to help others. In the first reading
the people were condemned for their sinfulness, but they were given ample
opportunity to change. Prophets were sent. The people were told
their ways were not of the Lord and that they needed to change, but they
did not. Those prophets were not accused of inappropriate judgment;
they were doing God’s work. Jesus’ disciples are likewise doing God’s
work. But before they can help others, they need to get their own lives
in order. Hypocrisy is inappropriate, but helping others reach a good
goal is not. Once the disciples get their own lives in order, they
will be indispensable to the cause. But they have to get themselves
together first before they’ll be capable of helping others.
Jesus says, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as
you judge, so will you be judged.” This does not tell them not to judge
at all, but lets them know that they will be held to the same standards.
They need to look after their own salvation first. Then they need to
help others along the way.
My sun burnt toes are not on the level of live or death, salvation
or damnation. They’re a red and sore reminder that I need to take my
own advice. I need to get my own life in order and look out for my
own salvation as well. If I can get myself in line, then I’ll be in
a better place to help others.
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