Daily Reflection
August 28th, 2007

Sue Crawford

Department of Political Science & Intl. Studies
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“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You cleanse the outside of the 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 may be clean.”

(Mt 23:25-26)

Get me to the church on time!

The response of Jesus to the scribes and Pharisees in the gospel story brought to mind a contemporary corollary – the struggle to get the family to church on time. I know that I have been guilty of unloving actions and attitudes in the effort to get everyone out the door on time. If it’s all for show, to show others that our family is respectable, then clearly I fall prey to the dish disaster to which Jesus alludes. I like to think that I am concerned about getting there on time for justifiable reasons such as showing respect and being a full part of the community of worship, rather than just for the sake of appearance. However, the full text shows that reasonable justifications do not let me off the hook. Those justifications may be like the tithes of mint, dill, and cumin, important to be followed, but not by neglecting the weightier things. In this case the weightier things of making peace (and keeping peace) with those in our family. The gospel message elsewhere to make peace with one another before bringing gifts to the altar makes the call to peacekeeping on Sunday morning even clearer.

The gospel story notes judgment, mercy, and fidelity as the weightier things of the law to be considered. Clearly love stands out in the entire gospels as a weightier commandment to be followed as well. Sometimes attention to judgment may be a loving act. We may help others to be more faithful and loving by reminding them of commitments and the need to be respectful of others. Judgmental nagging spewed in frustration will likely have the opposite effect. The readings provide grist for reflection on dealing with such circumstances. What would it mean to become as gentle as a nursing mother cares for her children in this situation (rather than imposing our weight as the “prompt one” or the “faithful holy one.”)? God has searched us and knows us in all our ways. Struggles with things as seemingly petty as how to let a teenager dress for mass are not beyond Him. Can we open this part of our life up to Him and allow Him to guide us? Are we obsessed with gnats or are we really dealing with a camel? What is inside our cup that needs to be cleaned that we may be missing because we are obsessing about the outside?

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