|A Rainbow @ St. Christopher's, 2012, jfd+|
We see the very blunt Jesus in today's Gospel selection from Matthew. Some describe his behavior and directness as unseemly: so truthful that it is insulting and hurtful. Jesus has "had it" with facades, and rules and regulations that have nothing to do with living into God's kingdom. Rules that do not assist in creating the kingdom of God, but actually thwart its development. Human made rules, for selfish gain, as opposed to God-centered actions that help those in need, is partly the focus of Jesus' tirade at the Pharisees.
We all know people, or have read about them in the paper or seen them on the news, who talk a good game, but don't play in that game. Jesus is objecting to hypocrites and self-deceivers who wallow in traditions that take attention away from actually doing God's work in the world. Jesus wants depth of heart and soul and mind, leading to good and right action, and damn the niceties of not calling people on their crap.
His actions don't make friends or keep feathers from being unruffled (or perhaps plucked). But Jesus wants action, and a cultural change. And so should we. We can fool ourselves that we have all the time in the world to get things done, that things are okay the way they are, and we can make changes down the road. Jesus is arguing against that kind of attitude, because he knows us all too well. Accepting and acquiescing to behaviors that are unhealthy is never acceptable in Jesus' book: and shouldn't be in ours either.
We will be making different kinds of friends following this challenging model. And yet, we will be building the kingdom God has opened for all of us in the life and ministry of Jesus.
Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.