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Faith Daily | 22 August 2022

PRAYER of the DAY - APBA p574

Creator God,

you have made us for yourself,

and our hearts are restless

until they find their rest in you:

teach us to offer ourselves to your service,

that here we may have your peace,

and in the world to come may see you face to face;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 23: 13-22

13 ‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. 15Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

16 ‘Woe to you, blind guides, who say, “Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.” 17You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? 18And you say, “Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.” 19How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; 21and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; 22and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.


In the first of the 'woes to the Pharisees' we see Jesus as preacher and teacher. As preacher he highlights wrong doing, the confusion of the externals of religion with what is at its heart. The Pharisees dutifully follow the law but it is the law they as mortals have set. And there are loopholes that those with a detailed knowledge of the law could (and did) exploit to their own advantage. Jesus uses 'woe', a heavily charged word given it was used by the prophets to announce God's condemnation and punishment on Israel. And then we see Jesus the teacher, inviting his listeners into a deeper understanding of God, pointing out it is not the outward symbol that matters but the force behind it, God, that is important.

How do we come across to others? Are we genuine? When we speak about loving others do our actions correspond? Do we fuss about details, the letter of the law and fail to live out to the full the life of grace offered to us by Jesus? May we let go of habits, rituals, preconceptions, the externals so we may better hear the voice of God.


Lord, help us to act rightly. Cleanse us and teach us compassion and mercy and cast away our arrogance and attitudes. Let us never confuse the beautiful gifts we have with their source but help us grow together in Your humble service. Amen.

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