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From service to a light heart

Lk 11:42-46

The Lord said: “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.”

Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”

Sometimes, the people who should be the most significant examples in living the faith are precisely the ones who push people away. Jesus points this out as a warning to all of us. He saw how the Pharisees were so worked up about the things of the Law, that they ended up pushing away good, believing folks. This hurts him because everybody loses. The Pharisees get lost in their hypocrisy, while the new people reject religion because of a false image that does not represent it well.

We feel uncomfortable with hypocrisy. We want to look at ourselves as honest, sincere people. However, when we look at ourselves squarely in the mirror, we often discover minor faults and lies that chip away at our integrity. It is one of the principal themes of Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Grey. A wealthy young gentleman receives a mysterious portrait that takes on the evil of his soul, while his appearance remains young to the sight of others. But he finds it a heavy existence to see how his soul is becoming dark and corrupt, despite what others may perceive. Hypocrisy ate away at any peace he had in his soul. We cannot bear the weight of a guilty conscience.

Jesus freed us from the weight of lying to ourselves. He wants us to live truthfully, in the light. He does not want us to remain in darkness and deceive ourselves. His words bring light and life to a troubled world. He criticizes the scholars of the Law for setting up so many obligations for the people while they live a comfortable lifestyle. Jesus preaches with his example. He took the worst punishments destined for the world because of sin upon himself and died instead of us. Rather than binding up heavy burdens for us, he chose to carry his cross up Calvary. When was the last time you thanked him for this?

Jesus invites us to be less worried about seats of honor and public opinion and instead seek to serve others. It is a privilege to serve. How often do we act thus, and often do we get caught up in our expectations? Sometimes we hope that others will be considerate of us, even though we spend all our time thinking of ourselves. Jesus wants to free us from this dead weight so we can serve others in peace and have love grow in our hearts.

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