Wearing the Mask

Often we present public facades of joy, happiness, peace, and contentment. Yet buried within us may be feelings of anger, sadness, brokenness, and envy. Our artists capture this feeling better than many. The poet Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote of “wearing a mask” to hide our “torn and bleeding hearts.” Smokey Robinson sung these words, “If there’s a smile on my face, it’s only there trying to fool the public.” As humans, we have perfected the art of putting on a good face to hide our feelings.

As Jesus is celebrating what would be his final Passover on earth, tensions are running high. Jesus is beginning to gain an audience at the Temple and there are some who don’t like it. The gospel writer Luke describes the scene aptly. He says, “the leading priests and teachers of religious law were plotting how to kill Jesus but they were afraid of the people’s reaction.” They were putting on a mask of piety in order to protect their reputation. Meanwhile violence reigned in their hearts. This violence inside eventually manifested itself and led to the death (or should I say murder) of Jesus.

It’s funny that the priests and teachers of the law were more concerned with the reaction of the people than the reaction of God. While maintaining a public face of piety in order to protect their reputation with others, they failed to consider their standing with God. While acting as intercessors on behalf of the people and teachers of the Scriptures, they nevertheless rejected the Spirit of God and refused to follow the Word of God that said, “You shall not murder.” Ultimately they allowed their hatred of Jesus to overrule their fidelity to God and the law.

Often there are thoughts and feelings inside of us that are less than holy. We may feel anger, disappointment, fear and jealousy towards others and even toward ourselves in some instances. When these thoughts occur, it is so important to, as the old hymn goes, “take it to the Lord in prayer.” Allow God to form our Spirits so that our love toward others can be genuine. Once this occurs, we are then free to love God and others sincerely.

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