December 09, 2011

Luke 11.37-41

When he had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dinner.

He came in and sat down. The Pharisee noticed with surprise that he had not begun by washing before the meal.

But [Jesus] said to him, "You Pharisees! You clean the outside of the cup and plate; but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools!-- Did not He would made the outside make the inside too? But let what is in the cup be given in charity, and all is clean."


At 11:53 a.m., Blogger forrest said...

We get the same story (?) or different aspects, maybe same kind of thing on different occasions, several times in these gospels. Usually meaning: The Pharisee is a prominent local citizen and has to offer hospitality to a well-known traveling teacher-- but is looking to find fault, set up an occasion to squelch Jesus-- but Jesus counterattacks.

1st Century "Pharisees," although they include the founders of present-day Judaism, are not promoting quite the form of Judaism we have these days, which has been much influenced (as has Christianity) by the destruction of the Temple some decades later.

These are much more establishment figures than our contemporary rabbis tend to be-- and their contemporary counterparts are to be found in many religions.

We have an early 18th Century Quaker (Samuel Bownas), returning to England from America, and asking people why the Meetings there seem to be so dead lately. He's told, by several people, that this spirit of 'cleaning the outside of the cup', which 'has always been a detriment to true religion', is already becoming a dominant element in the Quaker movement...

Why is that so much "easier" than looking at the inside & working out...?

At 8:24 p.m., Blogger Random Arrow said...

Beats me whether the Pharisees are largely stylized by the texts to reflect disappointments of the community of disciples who wanted Jesus to be accepted among the cognoscenti of their time or whether just the right percentage of Pharisees just happen across the path and are additionally dull minded enough about internal things that they deserve what they get since they’re the ones picking the fights. Or both. And a bunch more stuff that goes right by me.

I find it difficult to adapt contemporary concerns about anti-Semitism to this ancient text unless Jesus is redefined to allow him to rebuke no one – except maybe evil imperial Romans. I suspect that Jesus may have felt that he acted in the best Jewish tradition of impassioned argument. Ala points made about the tradition by Rabbi Anson Laytner.

It’s a good question (and I have no answer) why externals seem easier to pursue than the internal life. It’s a sociologists’ haven to study why first generation religious movements exhibiting spontaneity and fresh life harden over time (a generation or two) to preserve the forms absent the life.

I’m thinking how early Shakers often danced in ecstatic exuberance and how later generations nearly forced themselves to clap their hands and sway a little in what looks to me less like the original watuzi and more like the death cart funeral march in the Bette Davis version of Jezebel.

I’ve a favorite Pentecostal pastor who I visit sometimes on my rural circuit, and, he claims that a few good disciples in his denomination (not his local parish) got to thinking that the devil was exorcized by hacking up huge gobs of snot because such a phenomenon was rumored to have happened generations ago in one local parish.

Glad I wasn’t there for the original.

At 9:04 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

Why externals seem easier to pursue than the inner life?

Why do we find it so? Isn't it easier to repeat some practice that once brought epiphany... than to start over with "I don't know how to reach God; God had better reach me if He knows what's good for me [and since He does, He will.]"-- that sort of thing.

Painstakingly reremembering that I can rightly trust, but only because of Who it is that I trust. Something like that. Comforting in the end, but first there's that disquieting initial realization that I'm hanging from the original Invisible Means of Support!

At 10:43 p.m., Blogger Random Arrow said...

Yes. Well said. And thanks!


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