Mid-week Reflection – (Matthew 23:27-32) [26th August 2020]
We were a small group. We had decided to support a person who needed care. We made a plan. We presented every amount of money we could constantly offer and the other things we had to do. After a while, one of the members of the group did not contribute what he promised, but the others we did in such a way as to cover the deficit. At one point, the situation of the person in need of help worsened. He needed someone who was well enough prepared to provide specialized assistance, at least once every two days.
We gathered to find a solution. We were all surprised at the beautiful plan presented by the person who had stopped supporting us financially. Of course, at one point we all wondered how we would make the plan work, because more money was needed. Each of us presented the amount of money he could offer. The person who offered the largest amount was the one who had previously stopped supporting us. Moreover, he urged us to make an effort to offer more money, so that the plan works. And we implemented the plan. But from the first period of time, the same person stopped contributing. And not because he didn’t have money, on the contrary. He got lost very quickly on the long road between words and reality.
In the text taken as the basis for our reflection, an excerpt from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 23, verses 27 to 32, Jesus admonishes the scribes and Pharisees. The people consider them learned and able to understand the scriptures and explain their meanings. They are the ones who can explain and apply the law. They were the ones the people came to for advice and encouragement. They were considered righteous, law-abiding, holy people. Their advice was sacredly followed by the people, even though it was often difficult. They were the ones who applied punishments when the people broke the law, or misunderstood it.
Jesus calls them beautifully whitewashed tombs on the outside, but full of filth on the inside. It is the strongest image of hypocrisy. It is the most realistic description of falsehood. It is the evil that parasitizes all human communities and organizations.
It is the evil which is so well disguised that we take it as a sign of good and justice, a sign of good intention, of social involvement. It is the sign of noisy activism. The activist is the type of man who wants to save the planet but fills the place where he lives with garbage. He is the type of man who declares that he loves everyone, but does not answer the phone, because the “normal” time has passed for that. He is the type of man who constantly shouts that the law is for everyone, but for him there is always an exception. He is the type of man who wants equality, but he, only he is right. Woe to those who think differently.
He is the type of man who wants justice, but he always has a reason to do injustice for his right cause. Woe to those who doubt this. He is the type of man who wants to be heard, but woe to the one who interrupts him. He shouts loudly, but woe to the one who bothers him with a sound. He points his finger, but becomes angry when his slightest intention is questioned. He knows how to make noise to be heard, but he does not accept to be interrupted.
He knows how to apply the law, how to live the faith, who should lead and who should be lead, but all this is not for him. They are for others. He considers himself a prophet, but only to dismantle the evils of others. He has the most important mission: to highlight what is wrong with others.
He knows best what to do, but when he starts doing something, he suddenly gets tired. He gets lost on the road between words and reality.
Jesus knows that our words do not always correspond to what we do. We know that. We just have to be honest. And we will understand the difference between being an activist or being active.
(Revd. Bernard Noghiu, Prittlewell – 26th August 2020)