2 Aug 2016
God has made us to be a holy people—and “holy” means to be “set apart,” to be distinct and on a different level from everybody else. That’s why we sing, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts;” God is very different from his creation; God is entirely distinct. And that’s why he can say to us, “My ways are above your ways, and my thoughts are above your thoughts.” God is holy. And we’re made to be like that; we’re made to be holy.
Now, we have two groups of people today that Jesus is dealing with: the Pharisees and scribes, and other people who are simply referred to as “the crowd.” The Pharisees and scribes are proud and ignorant, while “the crowd” is simple and curious. Of course, the Pharisees and scribes see themselves as holy. They’re the ones who are trying to be true to the will of God; they’re the ones who have it all figured out; they know what’s right, and everybody else—including Jesus—is simply wrong.
But to the crowd, Jesus says in so many words: “Don’t be like them. They are not holy; they’re as common as a thistle weed, and they spoil the garden of God. Do not be like them.” In other words, if we really want to be holy—and live up to our potential as children of God—then don’t be prideful and don’t be ignorant. Don’t let any gossip or ill-spoken words leave our mouths, because that’s what “defiles” us; that’s what lowers us and makes us truly “common.”
And do you know where a hotbed of defilement is? Right here in the Church. Strangely enough, we ourselves can be just like the Pharisees and the scribes—from time to time. Even the disciples started to do it: They approached Jesus and said, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” Like a little child who goes to tattle on somebody. Right here in the Church, where we should be trying to be holy—to take the “higher road,” too often we settle for just being . . . common.
God has made us to be a holy people; he knows we can be that. And it begins by letting the words we speak be words of encouragement, reconciliation, and peace.