"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.'"
"And you say, 'Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.."
"Woe to you, for you tithe mint, dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith......You blind guides."
Jesus is in full-bore-attack-mode against the scribes and the Pharisees in today's selection from the Gospel of Matthew. In regard to the sanctuary gold, he says which is greater, the gold or that which makes the gold sacred. In regard to the altar he asks which is greater, the gift on the altar or that which makes the gift sacred. In regard to tithing, Jesus is demanding that we set our priorities in the correct order.
We can so easily become those blind guides because of the pressures of the world in which we live. Today's forceful reading is a sharp reminder to us that as the Body of Christ in the world today, we are called to dwell in that which is truly holy and sacred and not be distracted by, enticed by, made desirous for those things that are not holy and sacred in and of themselves. Today's reading from Matthew asks us to reflect on our priorities, our wants, our desires, and challenge ourselves about whether those are things that help in the kingdom's creation.
A hard lesson at this time of rampant consumerism rampaging all around us, getting ready for the celebration 17 days hence.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: At the Gloaming, jfd+, 2011