This morning's PAYG centred on Luke 12: 1 - 7, not exactly the most straight forward passage one has the privilege to ponder. As I listened the first thing I noticed was a detail I'd never before spotted - the crowd was so big that people were tripping over one another or trampling one another (or words to that general effect). Hardly a nice Sunday service! More the sense of fans trying to reach some pop idol. Interesting. But not actually where the reflection went.
Hypocrisy was correlated to inauthentic behaviour, of hiding the truth and pretending to be perfect, holy, sinless. As I pondered this, it seemed to me that this could be read more generally as about hiding behind the mask of 'FINE' (Feeling Inadequate, Needing Encouragement) when life is anything but; about burying our questions, concerns, fears or lack of comprehension in order to be accepted as 'proper Christians'. I try to be honest and open about stuff, but even I keep some things hidden. There is a challenge, I think, a balance to be struck that combines authenticity with responsibility. How do we remain pastorally sensitive without denying our own truths? How do we be honest and open without damaging others? I think that maybe hypocrisy is about self-centred self-protection, about how we think others might view/treat us if they really knew us. Responsible authenticity recognises that sometimes me telling you how I feel, what I did or what I believe might actually be harmful to you. It is important to be truthful - but not every truth has to be told.
Hypocrisy compared to yeast - as a tiny hidden ingredient that spreads its influence through the whole - that's a challenge to self-awareness I think. To spot the moments when I am tempted to be dishonest with myslef, never mind to others. When I am tempted to portray myself as more sorted or holy or virtuous (or more unsorted or unholy or unvirtuous for that matter) than I really am, I need to ask myself why I am doing this.
Tricky stuff! But to end on a lighter note, comparing Matthew and Luke, we see that special offers existed even in the first century - Matthew has two sparrows for a penny, and Luke has five for two pennies... bargain!