Saturday, March 23rd
Throughout the year, the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for March 23rd: Psalm 63:1-8; Isaiah 5:1-7; and Luke 6:43-45. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
The other day I was reading an article entitled “You think you know someone, but …” It was about the surprising character revelations that have occupied a lot of news space recently. From all the #MeToo scandals, to the college bribery scandals, to clergy abuse rising ever higher up the ranks, to the new revelations about Michael Jackson, to R. Kelly and a host of corporate, legal and political powerhouses that have been outed as rather unsavory, it is probably prudent to remember that we don’t know these people, rather, we know of them.
Appearances, as the old adage goes, can be deceiving. Images can be created for public consumption. They can be powerfully persuasive advertisements of the person. Even those of us with less means craft our posts on FaceBook to play to appearances. It may not be the most accurate assumption to believe everything that people post on FaceBook. They may present a rather edited version of their lives to the world on social media.
This is what Jesus is talking about when He teaches: “‘[E]ach tree is known by its own fruit.’” In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus has chosen recently His twelve apostles. He has introduced His Sermon on the Plain with a series of blessings and woes that are far more practical than the more familiar Sermon on the Mount. He continues teaching by stressing the need to love your enemies and to refrain from judging others unnecessarily. Jesus is demarcating His followers by their beliefs, not only stated, but put in action.
Jesus is looking past appearances. He Himself was rejected in His hometown because of appearances. He cured a leper because He looked past appearances. He called a tax collector to follow Him because He looked past appearances. And Jesus teaches, “‘The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, …’” Jesus is looking past the superficial of the public persona and FaceBook posts. Jesus is looking for what’s in a person’s heart.
Lent is about looking inward. It’s a time to look at ourselves and the fruits we bear. It’s an opportunity to see if we practice what we preach. It’s a chance to bring out and act upon “the good treasure of the heart.” And by this we will be known.
Faith, love and chitchat.
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