Jesus is challenging us today to address authenticity verses hypocrisy, both in our society and personally.
Malachi in the first reading says, “you have turned aside from the way; caused many to stumble…”. Questioning ourselves, what have we turned aside from? He also reminds us “we all belong to one God”, therefore we are equal to one another, but we have “…. profaned the covenant of our ancestors”. We, as Anishnabek, have profaned the covenant of our ancestors when we stop living our teachings on honesty, respect, etc, and follow a culture of attitudes that are not ours. We become inauthentic. As Christians, in the Old Testament, we turned away from our reality, our authenticity when Adam and Eve hid themselves from God to hide the reality of who they were. Closeness to God was ruined because they were not happy in themselves and who they were, but wanted to be like God. We, too, ruin our closeness to God when we separate ourselves from God. This makes us a dishonest people, not real, and inauthentic, a people who wear masks, facades, to disguise self, like Adam and Eve who hid themselves.
Jesus is much more straightforward, and doesn’t beat around the bush. He tells us “..do what they say,” referring to the Scribes and Pharisees, “but don’t do what they do”. Jesus tells us and shows us throughout the gospels how to be real, how to be authentic. Being real and authentic cost him his life. It means first addressing our own lies and deceit so we can see more clearly. Then it might mean refusing to go along with the deceit of some politicians, leaders, family, friends and anyone who leads others to believe in falsehoods for their own gain. That is what being Christian is all about. No facades to gain favors from others. Be simple, like a child. As Jesus says elsewhere in the gospels, “be like little children”.
For those of us in the church who think that by doing all the right things, we have an ‘in’ with Jesus, it might not be enough. Jesus wants a change of hearts, honest hearts without ulterior motives. Again, elsewhere Jesus says: we will come and tell him, “We ate and drank with you”, but he will say, “I do not know you”. If our hearts are not right, if we are not real and authentic, we will fool ourselves to a point that we don’t even know reality and ourselves. Let’s ask ourselves, am I talking and acting in the same manner with every person regardless of any title they might carry? Am I trying to impress some people, and if so, why? Malachi told us we all belong to one God and so we are all one. Authenticity is honesty, truth, and respect. If we can be brave enough to be honest, truthful, and respectful, we will be a humble, wise and loving people. There would be no misunderstandings, no wars, and forgiveness would be there even before it is sought, because mature people have compassionate hearts. Jesus continually challenges us to be authentic people.
– Sr. Kateri (Terry) Beaudry