Matthew 23:13-22 NRSVue
13“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in you stop them., 15Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
16“Woe to you, blind guides who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ 17You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? 18And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ 19How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it, 21and whoever swears by the sanctuary swears by it and by the one who dwells in it, 22and whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.
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Some thoughts on this scripture
Jesus keeps the strongest language to condemn those who confuse the externals of religion with what might be at its heart. I let God lead me in my time of prayer, prepared to let go even of habits, rituals and externals – all so that I may better hear the voice of God.
I pray for the community with which I worship; may we never confuse the beautiful things we have or do with their source, but may we grown together in humble service of God.