Psalm 85: 9-14
Matthew 23: 1-12
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
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 widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and 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.”
“Do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.” (From Saturday’s Gospel reading)
Reflection for Saturday: Are we teachers or witnesses?
By Graciela Ramos
In this Saturday’s Gospel reading, we see that Jesus says to his disciples: “In the Chair of Moses the Scribes and Pharisees have sat.” The “Chair of Moses” was not only a physical place, a chair that was put in front of the Synagogue where the Scribes and Pharisees sat to explain the Torah to the people. It also designated the authority they had over the Jewish people as custodians and transmitters of the law. When Jesus says to his disciples: “Do everything they tell you”, he is recognizing the highest value of the law and the importance of fulfilling it. The law had been given to the Jewish people as a sign of “freedom”. The Law given by God to his people was a blessing for them!
But, immediately after that, Jesus warns his disciples: “Do what they tell you, but do not imitate them.” A terrible sentence of Jesus! The Pharisees and Scribes were teachers of the Law but they were not an example to follow!
The religious authorities in Jesus’ times had appropriated the law that God had given them. They had interpreted it according to their own criteria and applied it according to their convenience. They knew the doctrine perfectly, but they failed in the way to apply it. And, as a result, the law given for the liberation of the people had become a burden too difficult to carry. God had never intended to crush the people with such a burden.
Something similar can happen to us today. We can know a lot about catechesis, we can know and interpret the invaluable Documents of the Catholic Church, we can preach in schools, parishes, seminars — but what do our lives say? Our mouths “speak” but our lives “shout”.
Our lives show to what extent we are true followers of Jesus, to what extent Jesus is for us the air we need to breathe and the water to live. It is our daily actions that tell the world who Jesus is. It is the love with which we live and give daily that is a testimony of who we really are.
So, if we have the strength of the Holy Spirit within us and we are docile to it, if we have the Word of God and the teachings of the Church that help us, if we have the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and so many other resources that God has left within our reach, what are we waiting for? The world today needs witnesses, ordinary men and women to show where the road is, where the victory is, where Jesus is.
Do you dare to be a model to your neighbors?
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica