To be honest, I was up early this morning and had a hard time focusing on what I was reading. Parts of today’s readings, I had to read more than twice – not because they were difficult to understand. I just could not seem to focus.
Then I came to Luke 11:41. “But now as for what is inside you – be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” Jesus was speaking to a Pharisee who noticed that Jesus had not washed his hands before eating. This was not a concern for proper hygiene but for proper religious practice. The washing would make Jesus spiritually clean before touching the food. All of us probably get certain practices ingrained in us. There is a way you do things in your home and a way we do things in our home. Practices matter – until Jesus shows up.
Jesus made this stark statement in verse 41 that got my attention and made me fully awake. “Be generous to the poor and everything will be clean for you.” To be generous to the poor requires releasing what I’ve been holding for me – releasing what I think I need for me – not being focused so much on me. Hmm…
Could my efforts at reading and reflecting on scripture ever become an outward practice that I am doing to be “clean”? Could my focus on certain practices keep me from or even give me an excuse for not doing the greater need inside of me? Be generous to the poor. Could that be the gateway to a clean heart?
Verse 45: One of the experts in the law answered Jesus, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.” Now that’s a loaded statement! What a way of avoiding the hard work of change that Jesus was expecting. Maybe that’s why I was having a hard time focusing on today’s scripture. There is still work to be done and change to be accomplished deep within me.
Today’s readings: Zechariah 1-3; Luke 11; and Day 20 in the Gospel of John