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Daily Devotional for July 16


July 16                                                        Matthew 23:29-39

Forty years ago the congregation of the Chicago Temple, under
the inspiration of Dr. Charles A. Goff, commissioned the carv-
ing of a scene to be placed over the altar of the Chapel in the
Sky. In this sculpture, Christ looks over the skyline of the city
of Chicago. There is a companion piece similar to this one over
the altar of the main sanctuary, in which Christ sits above the
city of Jerusalem, brooding over its life and people. These twin
pieces of art and history capture unmistakably today's Gospel
message concerning Israel's past and our present.

In today's Gospel Jesus denounces the false piety of the
religious leaders. These were people who, while praising and
honoring their ancestors, tried piously to separate themselves
from the latter's misdeeds and cruelty. Jesus confronts them
with the duplicity of their ancestors and the hypocrisy with
which they themselves presently live - killing, persecuting,
and beating new prophets that God has sent to them.

After this denunciation, Jesus goes to sit and brood over the
city. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem," he laments. He weeps because
the whole society is in danger. He weeps for the way true
spiritual leaders have been silenced in the past. He weeps for
the way he himself is being silenced. And no doubt he weeps
for the ways that true spiritual leaders will be silenced again
and again in the future.

Before we look to the past to ease our own consciences,
however, let us consider the message of the altar pieces in
Chicago. Their message is appropriate to almost any city or
town today. The existence of racism, poverty, homelessness,
homophobia, crime, and substance abuse places all of us
squarely in the company of our ancestors. We too must seek
repentance, must move our will and behavior until the con-
fession of our lips is that of our heart. Our new creed will then
be: "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord."

From The Road to Emmaus - An inclusive devotional Edited by Joseph W. Houle

Emmaus House of Prayer - Washington D.C.1989  

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