I am not ashamed of the Good News: it is the power of God saving all who have faith – Jews first, but Greeks as well – since this is what reveals the justice of God to us: it shows how faith leads to faith, or as scripture says: The upright man finds life through faith.
The anger of God is being revealed from heaven against all the impiety and depravity of men who keep truth imprisoned in their wickedness. For what can be known about God is perfectly plain to them since God himself has made it plain. Ever since God created the world his everlasting power and deity – however invisible – have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made. That is why such people are without excuse: they knew God and yet refused to honour him as God or to thank him; instead, they made nonsense out of logic and their empty minds were darkened. The more they called themselves philosophers, the more stupid they grew, until they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for a worthless imitation, for the image of mortal man, of birds, of quadrupeds and reptiles. That is why God left them to their filthy enjoyments and the practices with which they dishonour their own bodies, since they have given up divine truth for a lie and have worshipped and served creatures instead of the creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen!
Jesus had just finished speaking when a Pharisee invited him to dine at his house. He went in and sat down at the table. The Pharisee saw this and was surprised that he had not first washed before the meal. But the Lord said to him, ‘Oh, you Pharisees! You clean the outside of cup and plate, while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness. Fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside too? Instead, give alms from what you have and then indeed everything will be clean for you.’
So then, you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and evil
I observed a couple having dinner not long ago. Though they sat together, they said not one word to each other the entire time that they were eating. The husband was read the paper. The kid played with his DS. The wife was absorbed with her IPad. The maid spoke to the little boy to reprimand him, but husband and wife didn’t speak once during dinner. They ate silently, paid quietly and left sullenly. What kind of marriage is one where two people take each other so much for granted that communication is no longer necessary? Outwardly, they seemed perfectly married yet looking inside was there mutual love, respect and affection? Or were they just keeping up appearances?
The Pharisees of today’s reading hung on to old traditions as a means of justifying their faith. For them, going through the motions and keeping up appearances was a way to replace the faith and authenticity they did not possess. In the time of the Pharisees, religious practices and meticulous attention to hygiene was a way of setting themselves apart outwardly, even if inwardly there was little that justified them – “so then, you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and evil” (Luke 11: 39).
We can say, ‘Oh this is not relevant to me. I’m no Pharisee’. There’s a little bit of Pharisee in each one of us, if we reflect on it. We say we’re Christians and preach a gospel of peace, love, hope and forgiveness. Yet with our loved ones, we can be impatient, irritable or indifferent. We have a bad day at work and come home and vent our frustration on the ones we love. We lose money and take out our anger on those closest to us. We speak sharply to our old parents and begrudge them for being slow, hard of hearing or old-fashioned. Doing all this, we still call ourselves Christians. Isn’t this hypocrisy?
Some of us lead ministries and are very involved in church outreach work. Instead of being servant leaders though, we turn our noses up at others in the congregation who appear to be less knowledgeable than we are or are less able to communicate because they’re less well-read than us. Isn’t this hypocrisy?
So how are we not like the Pharisees? There is a little bit of Pharisee in all of us… or a lot of it even.
The Gospel’s message is one of ‘authenticity’. This means not just going through the motions of being a Christian and adhering to all its traditions but living the Christian faith itself. And as vessels of this faith, the authenticity of our love for the people closest to us, is a measure of the authenticity of our Christian faith. “If you consider yourself wise and learned, show it by your good life and let your actions, in all humility, be an example for others” – James 3:13.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for all families who are suffering from the strain of modern day stress. We pray we learn to communicate with one another constantly, with compassion, consideration and sensitivity.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our loved ones and ask for their forgiveness for all the times that we have been impatient, short, sharp and irritable. We ask for forgiveness for all the times we have been insensitive to their feelings because we were too absorbed in ourselves.
Wed, 12 Oct – Romans 2:1-11; Luke 11:42-46
Thu, 13 Oct – Romans 3:21-30; Luke 11:47-54
Fri, 14 Oct – Romans 4:1-8; Luke 12:1-7; Memorial for St Callistus I, Pope & Martyr
Sat, 15 Oct – Romans 4:13.16-18; Luke 12:8-12; Memorial for St Teresa of Jesus, Virgin & Doctor of the Church
Sun, 16 Oct – Isaiah 45:1.4-6; Thessalonians 1:1-5; Matthew 22:15-21; Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time