“Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all. Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
If you have been following the readings for the past few days, you’d know that Jesus was invited to a Pharisee’s house for dinner (Crazy, guy! I mean, what was he thinking?!). Jesus began giving him a piece of his mind practically from the moment he entered, and along with him the rest of his guests as well. What made him mad was their blatant hypocrisy, and their attitude towards the faith that was repelling people from God instead of drawing them towards him.
You might have heard the story about the guy who said, “Hey, I don’t want to come to church. It’s filled with hypocrites!” And the reply: “Ahh, don’t worry—there’s always room for one more.” Although it might seem like the guy got the rebuke he deserved, the fact is that he wasn’t far off the mark, was he? If I were to tell somebody to come to Christ, but am so little like Christ myself, why on earth would anybody want to come to him? We have to reflect Christ.
I know that I have brought many people to Christ over the last sixteen years. But I can’t help wondering how many ran away from Christ because of me. Because of a careless word. Or a thoughtless deed. It horrifies me, because although these instances may be very few, this is on me. I have to take responsibility, and I cannot excuse it on ignorance, or weakness, or any one of a hundred justifications we offer as to why we messed up. We have to take responsibility.
And when we take responsibility, we try to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Because when Jesus says, “Woe to you,” he means WOE to you. I don’t want woes in my life; I want blessings. And not just for this life; I want them in the next as well. Don’t you? So, we need to get our act together. And the only way to do this is by ensuring the insides are clean, so that we are not hypocrites.
That is difficult, but not impossible if we live within the confines of Jesus’ love. There, accepted and loved, we can peel off the masks we wear, and become real people of integrity. For that, as I have probably said many times before, we need to stop dancing with the devil, and remain glued to Jesus, no matter what. What does it take to do that? The answer lies in a little word called love.
If we know Jesus, we will love him. Let’s get to know him more and more every day. Then, we will love him more and more.