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Not A Moment To Spare

... you did not afterward repent and believe him
Matthew 21:28-32

Sermon Topic Hypocrisy

Sermon Week Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 21:32


A Sunday-school teacher had been telling her class of youngsters about "heavenly rewards" and "crowns of glory" for people who believed and lived good lives. "Now tell me," she said at the close of the lesson, "Who will get the biggest crown?" There was silence for a moment, then one bright youngster piped out, "The one who has the biggest head."

Another Sunday-school teacher asked one of her students this question: "Johnny, can you tell me what we must do before we can expect forgiveness of sin?" "Yes sir," Johnny replied. "We must sin."

Still another Sunday-school teacher asked, "What do you think a land flowing with milk and honey would be like?" "Sticky," came the answer.

In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus makes things a bit sticky for some sinners who have big heads: the pious, Church-going, self-righteous religious leaders of His time. Throughout the Gospels, the language Jesus uses to condemn their hypocrisy is always harsh and uncompromising. He says:

They preach but they do not practice.
They bind up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders.
They do all their deeds to be seen by men.
They love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues.
They pay tithes while neglecting the weightier matters of justice, mercy and faith.
They are frauds, blind fools, blind guides; they are like white-washed tombs, beautiful to look at on the outside but on the inside full of filth and dead men's bones.
They display a holy exterior, but inside they are filled with evil.

Fools! Frauds! Blind guides! White-washed tombs! Notice again that these very strong words of Jesus are not directed toward atheists or agnostics or criminal-types or public sinners. They are directed at respected Churchmen--men who publicly profess faith in God, who publicly adhere to religious law, who publicly participate in sacred ceremonies. Thus far that sounds like most of us, does it not? We believe in God; we try to obey the Commandments; we keep holy the Sabbath. Yet Jesus indicts these men as sinners of the worst sort. [...]

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