Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The irony of it all on Ash Wednesday

How is it that we in the church tend to hear what Jesus says, and then turn round and do the opposite? For example, Jesus warned his disciples to 'beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the market-places and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at feasts, who devour widows houses and for a pretence make long prayers' (Mark 12:38-40). And normally, those words are read by a cleric, wearing long flowing robes, who have come to the lectern from their special seat at the front of the meeting house... Something not quite right there...

I was struck again by this thought as the readings for Ash Wednesday were read at our retreat today. Ash Wednesday being the day when some people are marked by ashes, and wear them on the forehead throughout the day. Quite a public sign of fasting / discipline / denial, yet in the reading, Jesus says: 'beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven... and when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward' (Matthew 6:1, 16).

No comments:

Post a Comment