Friday, February 17, 2017

Fight Against Hypocrisy

As we approach the end of the second week of the Triodion and the Sunday of Judgment, it would be good to consider the question of hypocrisy. Looking back over the past few weeks we remember the great journey from sin to salvation of Zacchaeus, the Tax Collector, and the Prodigal Son. We can see in each of those stories also the warning against hypocrisy. The Church continues to send the message, “Don’t be like....those guys over there. BE like Christ.”  With Judgment Sunday around the corner, I invite you to read both today’ readings in the context of your tendency toward hypocrisy. We are all tempted to think of ourselves as better than the others. Of course it doesn’t help matters that so many Christians have chosen to categories sins as “not so bad” “bad” “really bad” and “OH BOY THAT’S REALLY REALLY BAD” when in truth ALL SIN IS THE SAME. Take a moment and read today’s readings:
Epistle Reading: St. Paul's Second Letter to Timothy 2:1-10 (RSV) - TIMOTHY, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.
Gospel Reading: Luke 20:46-47; 21:1-4 (RSV) - The Lord said to his disciples, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and love salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers.  They will receive the greater condemnation."  He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins.  And he said, "Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had."  Having said this, he proclaimed, "He who has ears let him hear."
We are encouraged to beware of scribes not because we are better than the scribes but exactly because it is so easy for us to become just like they are. We are reminded that athletes will not be crowned as victorious if they do not compete not because we have already won the race, but exactly because many of us so easily want to avoid the race all together and simply be escorted into heaven as champions.

Great Lent is about growing closer to Christ through repentance. It is about realizing that WE are sinners and hypocrites and often untrustworthy witnesses to the love of Christ. It is about following Christ into heaven. He is the example. He was lied about, spit on, arrested without (and convicted and executed) without cause. He was perfect God and all these things happened to Him. The greatest hypocrisy would be to think we are above the same challenges that He faced. 

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