sexta-feira, 20 de janeiro de 2017


Then Jesus said to the crowds
and to his disciples:
“The teachers of the law
and the Pharisees
sit in Moses’ seat.
So you must be careful
to do everything they tell you.
But do not do what they do,
for they do not practice what they preach.
Matthew 23:1-3 (read 23:1-12) - NIV

It is dangerous to be religious - much manifest religiousness means much danger. Religious teachings about loving others as ourselves and being humble are beautiful, but practicing them is something else. To talk about love and humility and live them are two different things. Many times much talk means little practice. True love and humility are silent - they do not speak for themselves and they draw little attention.

When the practice of religion is very visible, we can be suspicious! It's even worse when holiness is organized. When an official value system is established a political/social structure is put in place to promote it. This opens the doors to hypocrisy and inconsistency.

It was within this context that Jesus had confrontations with the religious authorities of his day. Jesus supported many of the teachings of the Pharisees, but criticized them for their lack of practice. They taught one thing but practiced the opposite, thus transforming faith into a burden and a farce.

Human beings have been the same since the beginning of our western cultural system, and the disparity between profession and practice is very present in Judaism, Christianity and Islam today. Despite the beauty of the concept of love and humility, the church is a "perfect stage" for hypocrisy and inconsistency, both individually and collectively.

At the individual level appearances are important. It is natural to want to project a positive image. Therefore religious practice becomes public and visible. Meetings serve as a stage to show good spiritual qualities and enhance self-concept and reputation. To admit to shortcomings and failures would harm our self-image and what others may think about us. In the church environment with our fellow believers we may have one type of conduct and in secular environments we may act differently. We may even change the tone of our voice when making a public prayer in a worship service. I tend to be suspicious of people who change the tone of their voice when they utter public prayers. Our religious and secular lives are compartmentalized, living and talking one way at church and another way at home, in the workplace and at leisure. In the church environment we can be gentle and sympathetic, but at home be aggressive and annoying. Religiosity may just be a mask to hide deficiencies.

On the collective level, ecclesiastical hierarchies feed pride. The higher we climb the hierarchical ladder, the more prestige we have. By occupying high positions we feel that we are superior. The appearance of humility can be used as a mask to hide our pride. We strive to stay ahead of the pack and climb even further. To maintain our position we need to preserve the system and promote the institution. Our supporters are manipulated in order to maintain the machine. Most of the tithes that are collected are used for the maintenance of the institutional structure instead of the promotion of the well-being of humanity.

Jesus exalts humble service that is without pretensions, prestige and ambition for self-promotion. Our goal should be to lighten the burden of others rather than add to the load that they already carry. Blessed are the meek...


Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Nenhum comentário: