October 30, 2011: 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. 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. All their works are performed to be seen. … They love the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:1-12)
Jesus again talks to the Scribes and Pharisees who were experts in Jewish Law, who taught the Law but whose actions didn’t match their words. Have you ever heard a person say, “Do as I say, not as I do?” It’s usually harder to love someone or show mercy or justice to someone, than it is just to talk about it. Jesus is stressing the importance of our actions (to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves) over just words. He said that the religious leaders were not showing compassion to the common person – they couldn’t keep their own rules. Jesus also stresses again that the Scribes and Pharisees did good works to be noticed, not out of the kindness of their hearts.
Jesus essentially wants us to “walk” the talk in all that we say and do when we are with our families, friends and even those people we may not like or who are not kind to us. He was teaching that to be a great person, you must become a servant to others. If you have a disagreement with someone, be the first to apologize. Do the dishes for your mom or mow the lawn for your dad, even if it’s your brother’s turn. We become more Christ-like as we learn to do as he teaches, even if it’s not the most popular thing to do.