Jesus says today: Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? And after castigating the Pharisees he goes after the lawyers who are sitting around the table to which he was invited.
There are times when I am cleaning my home, vacuuming, polishing, dusting, where I do what is euphemistically called "a lick and a promise". That's where I do not do as thorough a job cleaning as I might, just polishing up the outside so to speak (no one is going to look inside that bowl on that shelf and notice all that dust, right?.....) Sometimes this is because of the exigencies of time and at other times it is caused by a degree of laziness, of which I am not proud. If we extrapolate this idea a bit, we get to where Jesus is going.
Today's Gospel selection is along similar lines of yesterday's, where Jesus is talking about the light of faith shining in and that light then shining forth. Jesus goes further today, using the metaphor of cup and bowl cleaning to drive an important point home. This kingdom Jesus is proclaiming is not one based on shallowness. This kingdom is not one where false facades will be able to stand. Jesus is saying that, much like the light of his word entering our eye and bouncing off the clean walls of souls and then emanating back out to attract others, so the work that we do, the justice that we aid in occurring in the world must come from a place of integrity: a place of realness within us.
We all know of and have met phonies in this world: people who we know are not authentic. Perhaps, at times, we have acted this way. Jesus is calling us to a deeper place of existence, a truer attitude of interaction in the world. At times, not something easy to achieve, but a target on which we all should be focused.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.