How very dare he!


“For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.’

I remember as a child stepping through a graveyard with great care. Stepping on the grave of a buried person was either disrespectful or bad luck (I cannot remember which). I remember thinking real bodies were “under there” – which was scary. Stepping on dead bodies! And to step on them without realising … ? That is “a baddie” for a young child! Ghouls, ghosts and God – all wrapped up in one fertile imagination!

It is a line from today’s verses:
‘But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practised, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honour in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the market-places. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.’ One of the lawyers answered him, ‘Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.’ And he said, ‘Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.” Luke 11:42-46

The good Lord never uses imagery carelessly. So I had a look at what the imagery might mean.

“As a figure of speech, a common meaning of the term “unmarked grave” is consignment to oblivion, i.e., an ignominious end … Conversely, a deliberately unmarked grave may signify disdain and contempt. The underlying intention of some unmarked graves may be that the person buried is not worthy of commemoration, and should therefore be completely ignored and forgotten.”
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unmarked_grave)

So no wonder the response from “the friends” .. “’Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.”

How quick we are to react to a slight, an insult, a derogatory comment!

“Incoming” WHOOMPH!  – and back goes an “outgoing” – WHOOMPH back at you, ya furball!

How delicate we are. How brittle. How conditional!

What is that saying … You have to earn respect!” And that other one … “I have earned this!” And here is Jesus. One of the travelling dusty peeps. No place to lay his head. His admirers are even dustier peeps. A ragtag following. A bunch of no-hopers. And “this Jesus” has the temerity to take a swipe not just at the Pharisees – but at “the lawyers”? These good wholesome qualified pillars of society!

How very dare he!

Conditional love again. Conditional love is brittle and easily offended. Conditional love has expectations. Has entitlement. Conditional love is how very dare he!

I also bumped into just what “you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds …” actually means. It means the elite of the elite spent hours counting (or had a low paid “counter”). Counting even the leaves on the sprigs of mint – out there in the herb garden – bums in the air counting leaves!  All to make sure they “tithed” exactly the correct amount in everything – even the leaves on a herb plant.

How else can you view salvation other than “I have earned this”?

But how easily to be caught up in the whole “Christian tradition” of should, must, ought to, burden, sacrifice, duty, I have, you should, I did, you must, I always do, you never do, I fit in, you don’t …  How easy today to stand in front of Jesus today – this Sunday (or Monday – Saturday too) and say “You are insulting us – us who follow you – who serve you – who obey you – us who are saved – how very dare you!”

Although today – in the best Christian tradition – it is usually thought rather than spoken (as though this “God who saved us” can’t hear our thoughts!)

I wonder …

If the Living Word, the Word of God, The Holy Bible, “The Word” … actually “is” all those things … why do we read Luke 11:42-46 with a complacent sneer (or is that just me)?

How can we set aside the Living Word and all that is in it? How can we call it “that” and yet read it as a history lesson – distant and safe from us today?

“For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.’

This is not some foolish childhood superstition. This is about us. Me. You. All of us. Right now. And as applicable to us “religious elite” today as it was “back then”.

“Woe to us”??

No thanks.  We prefer …

Woe to them Pharisees.

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