n today’s reading, Jesus repeatedly denounces scribes and Pharisees: “Woe to you?hypocrites!” But they were not much different from us.
Scribes could read and write, useful skills in an overwhelmingly illiterate world. Like some of us, they worked as accountants, administrators and a variety of other “middle class” vocations. Pharisees, too, were found in all walks of life. Like most of us, they were devout worshippers and generous supporters of congregational ministry, with high moral standards and strong family values.
Concerning issues of faith and life they raised with Jesus, they were also much like us. What may or may not be appropriate on the Sabbath? Where to draw the line between patriotism and idolatry? Who is welcome at God’s Holy Communion table?
Like all of us, scribes and Pharisees were caught in the tension between the sinners we naturally are and the saints we are becoming by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit. Fortunately, those familiar words of our liturgical greeting ring as true as our old cultural proverb: The church is full of hypocrites, but there’s always room for one more.
Gracious God, help us receive your mercy with thanks and extend mercy to others, that all people may live in faith, justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen — PL