Daily Lectionary Readings for Year A
"Woe to you." These are three red-lettered words that are difficult to read. Jesus is not happy. He is expressing very clearly a conviction for those who are at fault. He expects those who have strayed from his teachings to feel a sense of distress. Woe to you.
One way to experience these "woe to you" moments is to look around. He must be talking to somebody else. I suppose I can recall that sense of relief when my brother got in trouble even though we both were at fault. There but for the grace of God go I. Woe to you. Whew for me.
Or, you could read these three words and commit to change. Making mistakes does not make you a bad person. Not being perfect is not a mortal sin. Woe to you is not a reason to deny your wrongdoing or claim your superiority. These three words could be the beginning of seeing yourself in a new way, of understanding what you previously did not comprehend, or turning while you still have time to turn.
We could read Matthew this morning and say, "Those fools in Bethsaida! How could the people of Capernaum be so dense? Jesus performed miracles among you, and you act as if nothing is different."
Or, we could recognize that when we point our finger at someone else, three fingers (and in some ways a thumb) are pointing back at us. Woe to me. God saved my life more times than I can count, and still, I complain. Woe to me. Jesus has given me abundant life now and for eternity, but I spend my time being hateful and jealous. Woe to me. I see the suffering of others, and I pretend that it doesn't matter.
When we are honest with ourselves, we can begin to change. It's not too late.
How have you taken for granted the miracles of Christ? When have you gone through the motions without your heart being filled with faith? In what ways have you blocked the transformative power of the love of God in your life from allowing you to be a witness in the world?