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He's Hollow!

Do not follow their example. Their words are bold but their deeds are few ... they themselves will not lift a finger
Matthew 23:1-12

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Sermon Week Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 23:3,4


A larger than average man stepped on a scale not knowing it was out of order. The indicator stopped at 75 pounds. A little boy, standing nearby with his mother, watched the big man intently. "Whaddya know," he marveled, "He's hollow!"

One of the key themes running through the writings of the Old Testament prophets and the preaching of Jesus is the condemnation of religious "hollowness' '-especially as they saw it practiced by religious leaders. Jesus condemned the Scribes and Pharisees, who held positions of religious authority. They were more interested in competing for positions of honor and recognition than in proclaiming the Word of God, Jesus said. They were avoiding that Word. This is the challenge Jesus hurls at the Scribes and Pharisees in today's Gospel Lesson. In order to learn from this Lesson we should remember that the Scribes and Pharisees were good, religious people by many of the standards we find acceptable, even today. They were serious about their religion. They came to Temple often. They attended the "schuls" where they discussed the Sacred Texts. And, although they sometimes differed in interpretation, and often engaged in theological controversy, nonetheless these people were recognized as spokespersons for the religious questions of the day.

Why then does Jesus appear to be very harsh in his condemnation of these "good people?" Clearly, there is something that He sees, something that He understands about their role of religious leadership that they do not see and understand.

Such leaders, the prophets said, were inauthentic, "hollow" ministers of the Word of God, primarily because they gave a higher priority to self-service than to the service of others, thereby neglecting the poor, the ordinary People of God-the "Anawin" as they were called. So often we read in the pages of the prophets that the widows are not cared for, the poor are despised, the sick are neglected, orphans left to shift for themselves.

Three persons were talking about some of the recent translations of the Bible. One said, "I like the New English version of the Gospels. It's easier reading than all the older [...]

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