Saturday, June 19

Pharisees v. Jesus


while the
smoke cigars
and drink
appletinis in the
oval office

is saying goodbye
to her children

please don't be
bitter that i have
it's not the doctor's
take care of each
you are all you
know that i love
I will always
be with you.
be good
i will see you
above all,

the pharisees
laugh at the

Lenten Reflection

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.

Matthew 23:1-4


There is a real tension between the way the Pharisees are portrayed in the Bible and the way that they are portrayed in Jewish history.  The Pharisees were not necessarily the rule-bound, unloving, difficult people they are portrayed to be.  I am told by those who study these things, that the Pharisees were instrumental in moving Judaism into the synagogue model.  This is a huge reform for Judaism and the saving grace of the destruction of the temple. The Pharisees were, in the time of Jesus, already trying to share their power with the people.  Often when a reformer meets another reformer (i.e. Jesus meets the Pharisees) there is conflict.  Whose vision is correct?  Where do we go?  What do we do?  The Pharisees were probably annoyed that Jesus was sticking his nose in their business.  Jesus was probably annoyed that the Pharisees weren't moving fast enough for him. 

There is that whole idea of working within power structures and working from the outside.  It is much more difficult to do reform from the inside.  It requires a longer timeline and patience.  There is the idea of how long do you wait until change happens?  If you are working year after year for reform and it is not happening, what kind of burden does that lay across your own shoulders?  I would say a heavy burden.  The people were heavily burdened with this need for change to a new way while being trapped in the old ways.  Hmm...sounds like our societal tensions today!  The liberals rushing ahead and the conservatives sticking their heels in the mud refusing to budge.  Who suffers?  Who bears the burden?  The people. 

Right now the people who need healthcare reform are waiting with baited breath.  They have heard the promises of the reformers.  But the promises have created a bigger burden of patience, resolve, and conflict.  And the reformers have damaged our trust by compromising and dealing away strategic reforms.  The people are carrying a heavy burden right now and the Pharisees in congress are mouthing platitudes.  Maybe, just maybe, Jesus is encouraging us to do what the Pharisees are telling us (be patient, keep writing letters, work towards reform), but not to be compromised by power.

Sometimes the burden of power and compromise just seems too much.  It is nice to know that God is there to help us carry the burdens that man creates.


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