Hypocrisy, Religion, Life.
There is a story about a boy in grade four caught stealing. His dad was called into the school office and told that his son has got a habit of stealing pencils from other students. His parent was disgusted at this and said, “Why did he do it? He shouldn’t be needing any more pencil. I bring him pencils from my office each week.” The dad enrolled his son in a Catholic school so that his boy will grow up to be a morally upright man. But he failed to grasp the influence of his own stealing habit on his son. To him stealing pencils from his office is an innocent act! The little boy learned from his dad that taking what does not belong to himself is okay. It is not enough to preach the right thing. Practising what you preach is equally important. Otherwise you are a hypocrite. There is a tendency to cry out for ‘equal standards for everyone’, when things are not in your favour. Do you have the same moral quest when someone else is deprived of your benevolence? Jesus condemns such duplicity as appalling hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy can never be tolerated. Jesus himself was very strong on his disciples not following the path of hypocrisy. Following Matthew’s Beatitudes and the Sermon of the Mount, Luke presents the collective memory of Jesus teaching on moral precepts in his Sermon on the Plain. Using the stories of “plank and splinter in the eye, rotten and sound fruits, and thorns and brambles” Jesus strongly condemns any kind of duplicity in the life of the disciples. This teaching is part of the new direction and the code of conduct for the Disciples of Christ (Cf Luke 6:39-45).
Faith is not an idea or a philosophical statement. Faith is the trust in God which is reflected in the way one lives. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I tell you” (Luke 6:46). Professing one thing and behaving in a different manner is the kind of hypocrisy Our Lord will not tolerate. The kind of person is to be judged by the kind of life we live in the world. “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes from a bramble bush” (Luke 6:43-44). The kind of fruit tells the kind of tree. It is interesting that Jesus is not speaking about the quality or quantity of the fruit. It is important to produce the good fruit in our lives. It does not matter what your achievements are or not. But they got to be good. If our motivation is love, then our lives will bear good fruits. As we commence Lent this week, ask yourselves whether you are sleep- walking, unaware of the hypocrisies in your life. Let us be enlightened to be good news for ourselves and others, bearing good fruits.