Daily Reflection

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November 5

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Do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example. 

Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus challenged the social/political understandings of his society and advocated an alternative social vision. He not only challenged the politics of purity, but advocated the politics of compassion (Borg). The conflict was about what it requires to be people centered in God. A politics of purity creates radical sharp social boundaries; a politics of compassion dissolves sharp boundaries and is inclusive. Jesus protested against an economically and politically oppressive domination system. He opposed a world hardened into a rigid ideology under a view of holiness. Scholars debate how much or how little ordinary first-century Jews maintained ritual purity, but the Pharisees certainly did. Throughout the gospels they criticized Jesus because of his flagrant disregard for ritual purity. Jesus indicted and challenged that purity, and its patriarchal domination systems.


Give me a compassionate heart.


Consider all the times in the gospels where you read that Jesus had compassion. Think of your own religious views. Where do they fall?

Suggested Reading

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. 
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example. 
For they preach but they do not practice. 
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders, 
but they will not lift a finger to move them. 
All their works are performed to be seen. 
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. 
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ. 
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Matthew 12:1-12

Jesus not only challenged the politics of purity, but advocated the politics of compassion.
Marcus Borg

God judges men from the inside out; men judge men from the outside in.
Criss Jami

To be a Pharisee is not to understand kingdom principles.
Sunday Adelaja

Pharisaism is a poisonous weed that grows in every garden of orthodox religion. Pharisaism is every bit the threat to the orthodox today that it was then.
J.D. Greear

The pharisees minded what God spoke, but not what He intended. They were busy in the outward work of the hand, but incurious of the affections and choice of the heart.
Jeremy Taylor

Sometimes we emulate the Pharisees more than we imitate Christ.
R. C. Sproul

Curiously, the righteous Pharisees had little historical impact, save for a brief time in a remote corner of the Roman Empire. But Jesus’ disciples – an ornery, undependable, and hopelessly flawed group of men – became drunk with the power of a gospel that offered free forgiveness to the worst sinners and traitors. Those men managed to change the world.
Philip Yancey

My daughter, I see more Pharisees among Christians than there were around Pilate.
Margaret of Cortona