Matthew 23  1-12

Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behaviour. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.

“Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’

“Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do.  Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people manoeuvre you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.

“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

Gospel Reflection

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is warning the crowd and his disciples to choose their mentors wisely. He warns them not to blindly follow those who have authority. We need to look at their actions and choices. Are they “practising what they preach?” For many of us, it is easy to say what needs to be done. However, it is not easy to practice it day after day!

Perhaps we need to periodically ask ourselves: “Are we practising what we preach?” It is very easy to say what should be done but the real test is if we put it into practice each and every day!

Why do we have to be humble? Isn’t it too demeaning at times when people simply look at us as weak, fearful, indecisive individuals because of humility? Well, because that’s what God is and He wants us to be like Him.

As human beings, we want something or someone behind us, or below us. These are our source of power against insecurity. And we give our best to bring together all titles that we can get. These make us more human. In this way, we fulfil the longing of our human desire. Unfortunately, these titles cannot really make us human, they dehumanises us in a way. For when we are too focused on our own future, that’s when we forget the needs of other people.