At that time: So many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees. There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12: 1-7)
As shallow as it may sound, many people live out their life on a stage. Regardless of what they really think, or what they may do in secret, they live their lives concerned about how they appear to others. If something goes awry, they change their “appearance” so they conform more to what they think the world wants.
Jesus has revealed that after we die, we face judgment. In this passage, he reminds us of this and encourages us to live with this perspective always in mind. We are not living for this earthly life alone. In fact, our journey here is directed towards a glorious destination beyond this earth. How foolish we are when we lose sight of this! How easily manipulated by false fears and false promises alike!
Jesus wants to save us from that life of unnecessary anxiety and uncertainty. And he does so by reminding us that God is our Father, that we matter to him as much as a little child matters to its loving, doting parents. The small little sparrows Jesus uses in his comparison owe every moment of their existence to God’s providential sustenance and care. And yet, we are worth more than many sparrows… Even the hairs of your head have all been counted…
The challenges and sufferings of life in this fallen world, riddled with injustice and violence, are real. But Jesus doesn’t want us to live in fear of them. He invites us to trust that God can handle them, and that God’s plan for our eternal happiness far surpasses anything we could possibly imagine.
At the heart of Christianity is the belief that we know that we are daughters and sons of God. We believe that we have a personal relationship with Christ. We trust that regardless of who we are or the mistakes we have made, God will remain faithful to us and protect us. We believe that Jesus knows the pitch of our voice and knowing everything about us, still freely chooses to love us and protect us.
Outside of that relationship, faith is simply a matter of words and religion a system of ideas. Words and ideas are not going to save us. Only love can save us. This is why we must be grounded in a relationship of love with Christ.
We need the strength that flows from that love because we live in world where there are all kinds of threats. We face the threat of terrorism, the threat of illness, the threat of rejection or prejudice from others, the threat of addiction, of violence, of injustice. How do we expect to cope with the fears that these threats can destroy us? How do we expect to gain the strength by which we can oppose the evil in our world and work towards God’s Kingdom? How do we expect to remain optimistic and positive, believing that life is worth living?
Words and ideas can only bring us so far. It is only when we ground ourselves in God’s personal love for us, that we can find peace. It is only when we believe God has chosen us and can recognize the very sound of our voice that we can live in freedom. Jesus’ words are clear. We belong to him. He knows our voice. He will always care and protect us. We need then, to stand in that personal relationship. We need to draw the strength that comes from Christ’s commitment to us. Jesus says, “I love you.” We need to believe that He is serious!
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, may the light of your word free my heart from the deception of sin and consume me with a burning love for your truth and righteousness.”
Hypocrisy thrives on making a good appearance and masking what they don’t want others to see. The good news is that God’s light exposes the darkness of evil and sin in our hearts, even the sin which is unknown to us. And God’s light transforms our hearts and minds and enables us to overcome hatred with love, pride with humility, and pretense with integrity and truthfulness. God gives grace to the humble and contrite of heart to enable us to overcome the leaven of insincerity and hypocrisy in our lives.