When elderly Adele Gaboury turned up missing four years ago, concerned neighbors in Worcester, Massachusetts, informed the police. A brother told police she had gone into a nursing home. Satisfied with that information, Ms. Gaboury’s neighbors began watching her property. Michael Crowley noticed her mail, delivered through a slot in the door, piling high.
When he opened the door, hundreds of pieces of mail drifted out. He notified police, and the deliveries were stopped. A next-door neighbor, Eileen Dugan, started paying her grandson $10 twice a month to mow her neighbor’s lawn. Later Dugan’s son noticed that Ms. Gaboury’s pipes had frozen, spilling water out the door. The utility company was called to shut off the water.
What no one guessed was that while they’d been trying to help, Adele Gaboury had been inside her home. When police finally investigated the house as a health hazard, they were shocked to find her body. The Washington Post reported that police believed Ms. Gaboury had died of natural causes about four years before she was found.
The respectable, external appearance of the house had hidden the reality of what was on the inside. Something similar can happen to people; we may appear outwardly proper while spiritually dead. All sorts of religious activity may be happening outside, while the real problem is missed: spiritual death on the inside. We need life, not a tidy façade.
Webster’s dictionary defines a façade as “…an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality.” Jesus had a thing or two to say about façades, especially when He was dealing with some of the religious leaders of the day. This morning, we eavesdrop on one of those dealings that took place around The Table.
In this conversation, Jesus doesn’t talk about the outside appearance of a house; He talks about clean and dirty plates. But the message is the same.
The Lord said to him, “Now, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and platter, but your insides are stuffed with greed and wickedness. Foolish people! Didn’t the one who made the outside also make the inside? (Luke 11:39-40)