Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered in thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.
There was a time when people in the public eye, on being caught out as having lied, deceived, cheated or having done something disastrous, were instantly pilloried, often losing their post in the process. Some, subsequently, made their way back up the political or celebrity greasy pole, but it was usually a struggle and their reputations tended to remain somewhat tarnished.
However, it seems less of a given these days, where instead of denying or explaining, they cry ‘Fake News!’ and hope it will just go away. An alternative approach seems to simply ignore the hoo-ha on the grounds that your supporters actually don’t care if you are a racist (perhaps they are too?) or if you slept with a porn actor (perhaps they wish they had?)
Nevertheless there is a general first reaction to such accusations of people and institutions to ‘cover-up’ or at least to seek damage limitation. Which at least indicates a recognition that the actions were in some way wrong in the first place? Then again, maybe the instinct to ‘go defensive’ is so strong that, regardless of whether they believe themselves wrong, they will seek to hide any evidence, simply because the consequences of being found out are so severe? I do wonder how Jesus, so critical of the Pharisees, would describe the hypocrisy of those in positions of authority, influence and power today? Then I wonder what he’d say about all mistakes that I have made that nobody ever found out about? Then I wonder if you wonder likewise?
God of light, who sees all, even in the dark, Lead us to acknowledge our faults, fears and, yes, our own hypocrisies. Shine that cleansing light upon us and upon all those whose actions, errors and inactions that have led to pain, hurt and damage. Heal those hurts, we pray and leave us cleansed, renewed and ready to try again. Amen
The Rev’d Peter Clark is a Minister in the Bridport & Dorchester Joint Pastorate (Methodist & URC)