Featured today, for the edification of the faithful, from Matthew’s files of profession in reflection, from his 23 chapter, facilitated by the letter “f”:
Forthwith Jesus focused on the folks flocking around and on his followers and reflected, “The faction of scribes’ and Pharisees’ frame of reference is information they profess to be the definitive formulations of Moses faithfully funneled into the fundamentals of the foundational law; therefore, familiarize yourselves with what they may teach you in their function as the law faculty and follow it; but do not follow them—in fact, refrain from reflecting their doing, for they fickly fail to fulfill what they so emphatically and inflexibly confess.
Their forte lies in forking over the freight, forcing you to haul it and fortifying the most formidable of loads enough to make even one fit as a fiddle in fine fettle falter; but they themselves unfairly fail to lift a finger to facilitate the effort. Frankly, they function to be flattered; for they make their phylacteries phenomenally broad and their fringes fantastically long. Furthermore, they fantasize about being featured at feasts and festivals, and fancy being received with deference in the frozen food section of the farmer’s market. They prefer having folks respectfully refer to them both formally and informally as rabbi. But you refuse to let anyone refer to you, even fondly, as rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all first-year students. And furthermore, refrain from professing anyone your father on earth, for, in fact, you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor should you find favor in being called professors, for you have one professor, the Messiah.
Never forget, flash forward, and the first among you will be the fool. All who fervently flaunt themselves for fanfare will be foiled, and all who forsake fanfare will be famous.
But affliction, misfortune, suffering and grief to you, scribes and Pharisees, you phony frauds! For face off with folks and foreclose on their belief in the kingdom of heaven. For you fuss and fume because you cannot infiltrate heaven yourselves, and when others enter, you frustrate their effort, their hopefulness, and their faith.
Affliction, misfortune, suffering and grief to you, scribes and Pharisees, you phony frauds! For you roam far afield—far beyond your turf, to the farthest flung of foreign fiefs, to reform a single neophyte, and after that you unfortunately make the fledgling twice as fit for hell as yourselves. It’s a fiasco!
Affliction, misfortune, suffering and grief to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever justifies their fidelity by the sanctuary cannot be taken at face value, but whoever justifies their fidelity by the fiscally extravagant, privately financed furnishings at the front of the sanctuary can be taken at face value.’ You blind finagling fools! For which is more efficacious, the furnishings at the front of the sanctuary or the sanctuary that confers upon the furnishings its force? And you say, ‘Whoever justifies their fidelity by the altar cannot be taken at face value, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar can be taken at face value.’ You’re fit for the funny farm! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that confers upon an offering its force? So whoever justifies fidelity by the altar, justifies their fidelity by it and by all offerings it’s received; and whoever justifies fidelity by the sanctuary, justifies their fidelity by it and by the one who fills it with presence; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the multi-faceted and ineffable throne of God and by the infinite one who enfolds it into every manifestation of love.
Affliction, misfortune, suffering and grief to you, scribes and Pharisees, you phony frauds! For you who fret and frugally and frequently figure the full tithe on fresh fennel, saffron, and sassafras, have foresworn the more profound factors of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have made your foundation without forsaking the others. You blind guides! You filter out a feeble fruit-fly but justify a freaking, frolicking elephant!
Affliction, misfortune, suffering and grief to you, scribes and Pharisees, you phony frauds! We find it fishy how famously finicky you are about phrenetically cleaning the outside of the frying pan, while inside it’s full of selfishness and self-indulgence like left-over fragments of fatty fried food festering. You blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the frying pan, so that the cleanliness of the whole may be the forgone fruition.
Affliction, misfortune, suffering and grief to you, scribes and Pharisees, you phony frauds! For you are like whitewashed family crypts, with fabulously fabricated facades that camouflage the filth beneath the surface. For sure your false face looks fine to others, but inside you are fake.
Affliction, misfortune, suffering and grief to you, scribes and Pharisees, you phony frauds! For you funded and manufactured the final resting places of the prophets and fashioned the graves and officiated at the funerals of the faithful, and you say, ‘If we had lived life to the fullest in the days of our forefathers, we would have refused to take part with them in shedding the lifeblood of the prophets.’ (Fee, fie, fo, fum, I sniff the life-blood of a prophet!) Thus, in fibbing, you testify against yourselves that you are descended from those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then finally, on the full familial measure of your forefathers.
You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being forwarded to the fabled infernal, full-fledged inferno of the fiery pit?”
Forage through these familiar phrases, making an effort to find the profound information that will both feed your faith and also make feasible your identification of the false fruit of those foul fiends whose facsimile of faith is superficial—all about affect and not effect, and will make feasible, as well, your identification of your own fruit—hopefully not faith’s failure, but the fidelity of your facade to your faith.