Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘phylacteries and tassels’


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.

Read Full Post »


Matthew 23:1-12Condemnation or Love

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Any time I begin to become a little full of myself, I try to remember Jesus’ words about wide phylacteries and long tassels.   In Jesus’ day, a Jewish man’s status might be shown by the width of the small leather boxes worn on the forehead and left arm containing scripture verses, and by the length of the tassels on his outer garments.  The word rabbi was reserved for honored teachers.

Jesus cautions his followers – and he cautions us – to be wary of flamboyant leaders who do little or nothing to be certain that their own actions match their words.  Jesus calls us to integrity away from hypocrisy.  He calls us to sincerity, constancy, and honesty.  He reminds us of the inversion that governs his kingdom . . . those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.   

We condemn ourselves . . . or save ourselves . . . by the choices we make.  Today Jesus condemns false leaders who burden the little people.  Today Jesus calls us to love.


A re-post from October 11, 2011.

Images from: http://devotionalonjesus.blogspot.com/2010_02_01_archive.html

Read Full Post »


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.

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: