A Firm Foundation
The Rev. Dr. Susanna Metz of the School of Theology at Sewanee has written on this passage saying,
We might say to ourselves, “If I lived in that time, I certainly would believe everything Jesus told me.” But we mustn’t forget that those people were just as human as all of us. Isn’t it true that even today some folks miss the incredibly obvious? Some people – some of us, maybe – are so self -absorbed that they see very little around them. We read about lots of folks who were like that in the scriptures. Most often it’s the Pharisees and Scribes who get pigeon holed like that, but they certainly weren’t the only ones.The full text of her sermon is online here: Proper 4a
And it’s no different today. We don’t have to look far in our own society to find people who say one thing and do another, or even worse, who try to make us think they’re doing us a favor when they are really lining their own pockets. Jesus is saying to his followers – and to us – make sure your actions and your motives match.
Today’s gospel is a stern reminder that we can’t get away with appearing to do good while we pick and choose who it is we do our good deeds for. Jesus isn’t kidding when he says he won’t be pleased.
Jesus says over and over that all we have to do is hear his words and act on them, hear and believe, hear and obey. And the important thing is to remember that those early Jews already knew what they were supposed to do. Jesus wasn’t giving them a whole new set of rules to live by. He’d already reminded them at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount that he hadn’t come to abolish the laws they already had, but to fulfill them – to help them live the life they knew more faithfully.
It’s the same for us. We know what we have to do. It’s just hard to do it all the time. Hearing the word of God, hearing what Jesus says to us, isn’t something we do once and then check off our list. We have to keep listening all our lives, learning more and more about how God would have us live.
We have our baptismal promises, we have the words and actions of Jesus, we have the commandments. What Jesus is telling us today is that we need to be faithful, that we need to examine our motives and make sure that what we do and say fits with the life God asks us to live.
Labels: Gospel reading