Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy’

Matthew 15:1-20: The Tradition of the Elders

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Written on April 24, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

I wish I had more time to sit with this today.  Since I do not, I promise myself that this evening, when dinner is done and the papers graded, I will turn back to this before falling asleep.  I love when Jesus has to explain things to his disciples.  It makes me feel less silly!  When the people who lived, and walked, and worked and played with Jesus get things wrong, I do not feel so bad when I do as well.

Footnotes from the NAB tell us this dispute about the washing of hands before eating was more than a struggle about the rules.  Jesus points out the hypocrisy of these elders who pledge to take care of their own parents but who do not.  They accuse others of being slackers when they themselves truly are. Jesus escalates things a bit as he poses new thinking about the Mosaic Law concerning clean and unclean things.  He, as the New Law, embodies God’s Word to us, incarnates the Law of Love for us.

At this time of year we are always reading from Acts of the Apostles – and I love this – because we see the young church struggling to form itself as the bride struggles to ready herself for union with the groom.  And today’s reading is chapter 15 verses 7 to 21.  It dovetails nicely with the challenge we reflect on in Matthew 15.  When newness happens, it will be accompanied by conflict.  This is not a bad thing.

I am looking at the morning intercessions in MAGNIFICAT.

To you we turn!  Hear us!

You are our stronghold in time of trouble: grant us the wisdom and the courage to place out trust in you.  To you we turn!  Hear us!

You are our defender against all evil: teach us always to call upon you in prayer.  To you we turn!  Hear us!

You have delivered your people from death by the power of the cross: strengthen us to bear one another’s burdens in love.  To you we turn!  Hear us!


Image from: http://heartofflesh.wordpress.com/2007/09/02/mans-religion/

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.24 (2008). Print.  

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Matthew 23: Woe

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Shema

Frequently during our Noontime reflecting we have observed how Jesus both promises and warns the world that there is a clear choice before us always: we may choose Beatitude or we may choose Woe.  Jesus also warns us frequently about true and false prophets, the difficulties and gifts we receive from entering into self-knowledge, the presence of evil in the most intimate and holy of places, the importance of praying the Shema in all our actions, and the peace of heart that arrives when we give over everything to the following of God above all else.  Today we look at perhaps the strongest indictment of false leadership present in the whole of scripture in which Jesus – at the height of his success among the people – steps into the comfort zone of church leaders to condemn their collusion in the corruption of God’s beautiful creation.  If we are in doubt as to whom Jesus might be seeing as false when he looks at us today, we have only to read the opening lines to see if we are his target for remediation: Those who preach but do not practice, those who tie up heavy burdens to lay on others’ shoulders but lift no finger to help,  those who perform works to be seen, those who love places of honor at banquets and seats of honor in places of worship, greetings in market places, those who widen their phylacteries and lengthen tassels.   Phylacteries are little black, leather prayer boxes worn on the upper left arm and forehead that carry the Shema prayer we thought about just several days ago.  Tassles are also prescribed in the Shema and they are the blue border or the blue and white fringe or threads at the four corners of the outer garment that would remind practicing Jews to adhere to the Law as prescribed in Numbers 15:38 – with their body, mind, heart and soul. Gospel-followers today wear crosses and medallions, frequent religious places and ceremonies, practice peace and justice in their work and play.  We can put ourselves under the same examination that we give to the scribes and Pharisees we read about today.

Bender Stanislaw: Laying Phylacteries at a Barmitzvah

Hypocrites, blind guides and fools, whitewashed tombs all beautiful outside and sparkling in the bright sun . . . but dark and empty on the inside, full of death and filth.  Jesus proclaims woe on and to the people who stubbornly believe that they are immune from scrutiny.  Jesus calls out to all of us to turn a discerning eye on what we say to see if it matches what we do.  Jesus laments the loss of so much potential in the closing verses of this chapter as he predicts the end of their present life.

When Jesus visits with each of us, he confronts our own hypocrisy and false fronts; yet he also comforts where he finds hurt, he heals where he finds damage, he cures where he finds regret, and he restores where he finds a conversion of heart.  This conversion is evidenced when we ask forgiveness.  It is witnessed by our willingness to accept responsibility for our missteps and our honest attempts to make amends.  This conversion is seen in our openness to what we have thought to be impossible – that we might both change and be changed by the blessed one who comes as an expression of God’s love to and in the world.  We have only to let the Christ enter our lives . . . and then to give our lives over to him.

A re-post from May 29, 2012.

Stanislaw image from: http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Rabbi-Tying-the-Phylacteries-to-the-Arm-of-a-Boy-Posters_i4047644_.htm

To read more about the importance of the Shema click The Shema image above or go to: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Torah/The_Shema/the_shema.html

For more information on the The Shema prayer go to: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/shema.html

To read The Shema prayer go to: http://www.jewfaq.org/prayer/shema.htm

Re-written and posted on October 28, 2009 as a Favorite.

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Proverbs 6:12-35 and 7: Something Nasty

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

God is perfectly aware that not all creatures understand the goodness and generosity of creation’s gift. Having that in mind, the writer of Proverbs reminds us that the riffraff and rascals who plot and scheme will always – in God’s time and in God’s economy – wind up suffering the consequences of the chaos they plot against others. In a literary context, we refer to this as irony, the end of the twisting plot twisting back on the antagonist. We often believe that in reality the outcome is different: he who plots and schemes becomes rich and powerful; she who plots against the innocent escapes destiny’s karma.

Riffraff and rascals
    talk out of both sides of their mouths.
They wink at each other, they shuffle their feet,
    they cross their fingers behind their backs.

If we live in a timeline of the physical world, we might see ourselves as correct in thinking that the spiritual world holds out false hope. When we live in God’s eternal time, we find that we have misunderstood God’s plan for the kingdom. When we ignore God’s time and plan, we find that we have become like the riffraff and rascals we deplore. We have given in to something nasty. We will have rejected the advice of Proverbs that the final total smashup will arrive at our door, and we will become the hypocrites who cross our fingers behind our backs.

Their perverse minds are always cooking up something nasty,
    always stirring up trouble.
Catastrophe is just around the corner for them,
    a total smashup, their lives ruined beyond repair.

In the following verses, we hear about human actions that induce God’s ire; these items are laid out clearly. Various translations present differing translations but this interesting list is always the same, a litany of easy signs that we might look for in our own daily actions.

  • A proud look.
  • A lying tongue.
  • Hands that kill innocent people,
  • A mind that thinks up wicked plans.
  • Feet that hurry off to do evil.
  • A witness who tells one lie after another.
  • And someone who stirs up trouble among friends.

As Easter People, we share the Good News Jesus brings to creation that God’s merciful patience and generosity are always waiting in hope to redeem us. God’s persistence and wisdom are always presenting in faith new lessons for us to learn. God’s justice and consolation are always bringing us new opportunities to love as God loves.

The final verses of this chapter reprise the hazards of adultery and we might wonder why the writer brings this theme to us again. Besides the obvious danger of wanton men and women, might we also need be wary of addiction to lusting after power, wealth and fame? Might we need another practical warning to steer clear of riffraff and rascals lest we becomes one of those who ignore God’s call away from something nasty?

Even so, when the dust settles, we find that despite our recalcitrance, despite our rejection of truth, despite our haughtiness and ego-driven behavior, God’s compassion is awaiting us with Christ’s open and holy love. We are invited today to become one with that sacred heart.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to find different versions of these verses, we explore God’s transparent plan for our good, and the good of all creation.  

The original definition of hypocrite is “actor”. (See Merriam-Webster at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/hypocrite-meaning-origin) For interesting thoughts on hypocrisy, click the image of masks above. 

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Encyclopedia Britannica: Sor Juana

Proverbs 5: Duplicity

Monday, July 24, 2017

In ancient cultures, the institution of marriage was an important glue that held society together; families relied on a patriarchal paradigm in which men served as leaders with women as their helpmates. Wise men realized that their service as the head of the unit did not relegate women to an opposite role at the foot. Wise men and women then and now understood – and understand – that families operate best in an atmosphere of trust, respect and dignity.

Today’s reading warns young men about the wily ways of female prostitutes, women who serve as sexual tools for those who hold power. Today, we have a better understanding of the plight of sexual slaves and in some parts of the world, sexual slavery is unacceptable, and even illegal. Not all cultures hold this standard but today’s citation reminds us that personal integrity is a hallmark of solid Christian living.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a Mexican Carmelite who wrote the famous piece, Hombres necios, or Stupid Men, points out the hypocrisy of men who both seek and scorn women as prostitutes. More about her life work is worth exploring at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Sor-Juana-Ines-de-la-Cruz The influence of this cloistered nun was felt in Baroque-age Mexico and Spain as she interacted with scholars, leaders, and other poets. Like Lady Wisdom, Sor Juana points to the way of integrity and honesty despite the environment of hypocrisy surrounding her. Like Lady Wisdom, Sor Juana is not afraid to speak truth to those who enjoy duplicity.

For the Spanish and English versions of Sor Juana’s poem, visit: https://zocalopoets.com/2012/07/11/sister-juana-ines-de-la-cruz-stupid-conceited-men-hombres-necios/

Comparing various translations of these verses, we re-examine the problem of duplicity.



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Proverbs 4: Admonition

Sunday, July 23, 2017

We can never be too cautious or prudent. Learn the ways of wisdom by heart.

We can never be too vulnerable and open to God. Keep vigilance over our hearts.

We can never forget the practical advice of Lady Wisdom.

Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
    ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
    leave evil in the dust.

Wisdom admonishes us to take care, but she also reminds us that small, practical guidelines bring us serenity and joy.

Comparing various translations of these verses, we realize again the importance of small practices.


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John 8:1-11: Throwing Stones – Part I

Wednesday, July 27, 2016stones with heart

What tax or tithe do we surrender when we give in to the temptation to throw stones? 

In our public and private lives, in our work places, in our houses of worship, in our homes . . . we are constantly called to judge one another. Where so we learn how to handle our tendency to judge?

Swarms of people came to Jesus. He sat down and taught them.

Christ still walks among us and teaches us through our own spiritual core where the Spirit speaks, and through the words and actions of others whom God sends into our path. When we silence the noise of the word and withdraw for a time as Jesus does, we allow a space for God to speak to us. Even then, there will be those who challenge us. And they will frequently hide among the holy, the expert and the innocent. What do we do to distill the Word of God?

The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone.

In all circumstances and at all times we are vulnerable to the trick questions and false fronts of those who take advantage of our better nature. What do we say when we are hard-pressed by deceivers?

stonesThey were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” 

On all days and at all hours we face confusion and obfuscation. When we do as Jesus does and answer the deceptive dare with a question that goes to the core of the deceit, we invite Christ into the conversation.

 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. 

At times we are the condemned woman, at times we are the hypocritical accusers, at times we are innocent victims of the unjust. In all cases we must respond as Jesus responds: Does no one condemn you? Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.

Throwing stones is a dangerous temptation. Throwing stones puts us in ambiguous positions. Throwing stones nurtures division and does not encourage understanding or inclusion. Today we chose a circumstance, environment, or situation at which we want to throw stones. We reflect on this story and we look for ways to apply it to our own lives.

For a reflection on the distinction between throwing stones and giving grace, click on the image above or visit: http://sharperiron.org/article/showered-with-stones-or-grace 

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Matthew 23Denunciation

Friday, November 20, 2015 tassels

How many of us like to widen our phylacteries and lengthen our tassels?  The footnotes for this chapter are extensive in the NAB and they are worth reading.  This is the list of Christ’s woes as recorded by Matthew and these words have the feel of prophecy.  Hypocrisy, lack of integrity when our words and actions do not match. This is what Jesus warns us about.

What do we do when the ugly green monster rears its head?  When jealousy strikes, as it always does, what is our reflex?  Do we allow ourselves to succumb to the temptation of taking credit even when it is due?  Do we put the emotion which overtakes us in its proper place and convert it to humility?

Verses 37 to 39 are Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem, the city which ought to serve as a beacon to all, now drags her skirts in the mire as the prophets foretold.  Jesus himself cannot sway these leaders.  God’s own word cannot get their attention.  The final woe defines Jesus’ audience as murderers of prophets, of the holy ones.  This is scary stuff.  Chapter 24 follows with the foretelling of the destruction of the temple which actually occurred in 70 C.E.  This event was on the horizon and yet they did not listen.  Do we? How far do we have to go until God finally gets our attention?  Are we this dense?  We pray not.

And so we go to Jesus, hoping to learn how to avoid our own denunciation.

phylacteriesGenerous and faithful Jesus, may we narrow our phylacteries and shorten the tassels on our shawls. May we learn humility from your stories, and mercy from your actions. We ask this in your name. Amen.

 A favorite from January 28, 2008.


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The Roman Denarius

Mark 12:13-17: The Mystery of Rendering

Friday, June 12, 2015

Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.

These words seem oh so simple . . . and yet they contain such a depth of wisdom that a lifetime of reflection will not uncover all that Jesus wishes to tell us.

God says: When you are perplexed by the world, remember that your confusion comes from believing that there are two worlds you want to reconcile. There is only one world and one life. That world and life are me. Render your confusion to me. You will reap clarity and wisdom. When you are disappointed in the relationships you have forged, remember that no one’s opinion but mine matters. Others who pose and cajole you are speaking only on their own behalf. Truth comes from love and love comes from me. Render your lives to me. You will reap life eternal. When you are hurt and damaged by the hypocrisy around you, remember that integrity is the hallmark of my discipleship. I will deal with the lies and deceptions. Stay away from deceit and it will not ensnare you. Render your fidelity, hope and love to me. You will reap peace and serenity.

Spend time with these verses today. Use the scripture link to compare differing phrases and lexicon. Determine what it is that Jesus is saying when he answers a question with his own question. Decide what it is that Jesus is asking us to give over. And then consider what it is we gain by this rendering.


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James 3:17-18: A Holy Life

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 10, 2015

“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor”. THE MESSAGE

Jesus has told us about the nature of true discipleship. God has created us in the image of goodness and light and truth. The Spirit lives within, waking us each day to new possibilities of hope and peace and mercy. In celebration of the continuing gift of Easter life, let us spend time today in God’s intimate company, and let us thank God for the gift of a holy life by striving to live on true discipleship.

Using the scripture link above, compare other versions of these versions from James’ letter



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