1.) And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45
Comment (hereafter "C"): Now, please explain to me why the diametrical opposite of this leadership model is followed by so many of my fellow Christians. It's as if this text is non-existent.
It would also be a boon to any organization, whether Christian or not, if this model of leadership were taken more seriously.
2.) And he said to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath . . ." Mark 2:27-28
C: Now, if this standard applies to, of all things, the divinely instituted sabbath which has been so crucial for Jewish life and worship through the centuries, could it not also apply to considerations of Christian liturgy? In the end, is not the liturgy also made for man and his transformation and rest and not man for the liturgy?
3.) "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them: for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 6:1
C: I am afraid I think of this verse when I see how much fuss some clerics in some sectors of the Church make about the gorgeous character of their vestments. Frankly, such fuss seems a bit effeminate to me.
4.) "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward." Matthew 6:5
C: The closet devout narcissist is a reality many have likely seen firsthand. Sometimes the lust for being center stage is suspiciously similar to forms of megalomania.
5.) "And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before him." Matthew 6:7-8
C: We should not give sermons in the guise of prayers. Let's practice a preferential option for concise prayers.
6.) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy an faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!" Matthew 23:23-24
C: In the original Greek, the word translated above as "justice" can also be translated as "judgment." In other words, you can't neglect "judgment" either.
How does this saying complement the command "judge not that ye be not judged" in Matthew 7:1?
I propose the following: we must not neglect good judgment or discernment, but we must avoid faulty judgment. Only grace building on a healthy nature that learns from experience can enable us to carry this off.
The unforgettable phrase "straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel" is widely applicable to so many things. This saying--one of my favorites of all time-- is like a hit-man making sure he is well-groomed before he does his work. You can think of many other applications that are less dramatic and more common but no less disturbing.
7.) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." Matthew 23:27
C: This is good advice when dealing with all manner and types of people. One crucial area of application is that of deciding whom to marry. The English proverb makes the same point: not all that glitters is gold. The wisdom literature of the Bible also recommends: test before befriending.
8.) "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Mark 10:25
C: This saying may well be the most practically ignored biblical saying in history. Certainly, this saying must mean that becoming rich is a goal we should not pursue, at least directly.