3/7/2023 (Tuesday) Today’s gospel reading: Matthew 23:1-12
1 Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples,
2 saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
3 Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.
4 They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.
5 All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
6 They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
7 greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
8 As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
9 Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.
10 Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ.
11 The greatest among you must be your servant.
12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
3/7/2023 (Tuesday) Today’s gospel reflection: Matthew 23:1-12
Religiosity is not the same as spirituality. A person may be very active in church activities and very vocal about his or her faith but that is all. It means his or her spiritually is superficial because deep inside, real love does not exist. This is what angers Jesus – hypocrisy and fanaticism which are embodied by the scribes and Pharisees. Behaviors such as putting heavy burdens on other people and not helping them, being showy with clothes to attract attention, salivating to have a seat at places of honor, relishing the salutation of others, and enjoying greatly being called master or any title for that matter are prime examples of extreme need for admiration in order to satisfy the ego. In short, this is narcissism at its best.
Humble people do not need to show off or do anything that satisfies their ego. In fact, they do not have a “big ego” but instead, they are a little embarrassed by praise. They do not care so much about their physical appearance. They are not boastful and they are not judgmental. Their spirituality is real because they serve the Lord not for anything but for love. God Himself will exalt them.
Although the gospel reading above is directed to everyone, it is most applicable to preachers and religious leaders. There is a great need for them to walk the talk or to practice what they preach. They must at all times exhibit servant leadership by being humble and to redirect any praise to the Lord.
There is a warning for everybody. Many times, we condemn others unfairly and unjustly for being judgmental or for their hypocrisy. Let us remember that only Jesus has the moral authority to rebuke the religious hypocrites and fanatics because He can read the heart of people while we cannot.