A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 23:1-12)
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.”
Good News Reflection:
Introductory Prayer:Lord, I want to be a great apostle; a bridge so that others might reach you. So many souls tire and give up along the narrow path. You know how often I have done the same. Yet you have mysteriously called me to lead others especially by my coherence of life. You have carried my burden. Thank you for your example of generosity.
Petition:Lord Jesus, help me to be attentive to the spiritual needs of others.
Is Your Religion a Heavy Burden?Religion should uplift us. The goal of religion is to re-unite fallen man to God; thus its Latin etymology “re-ligio”: re-attachment. Religion becomes a heavy burden when it becomes pseudo-religion, when it no longer leads us to God, when it reinforces vain practices or leads us to focus in on ourselves. Have I reduced my religion to merely worrying about myself? Christ’s point is that a religion that ceases to be fully practiced is a religion that ceases to be religion. A simply personal, feel-good spirituality is a deceptive dead end.
Are You a Drag on Your Religion?Christ could preach with authority because he practiced what he preached. Even the winds and sea obeyed him. We transmit our faith when we live it coherently. Christ warns us, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matthew 18:6-7). Do I take enough care to make myself aware of all the souls I influence? Have I been properly shepherding all those the Lord has entrusted to my care?
A Great Motivator.Known for his humility, the monk St Bernard loved his time of silence, contemplation and solitude. Nevertheless, many sought him out because of his great wisdom and holiness. On various occasions he was chosen to be bishop — of Genoa, Milan, and Rheims —, but always refused out of humility. In fact, so many sought his advice that it has been said that he governed all the churches of the West from his solitude. Every Christian is called to be a great motivator and leader. We lead most effectively when we are humble. May we not search for any titles of honor other than that of being a friend and servant of Christ.
Dialogue with Christ:Lord, teach me the value of even one soul. How quickly I take your love for granted. How often I am not willing to make even the smallest of sacrifices to return your love or to do something so that other souls will know you as I know you. Lord, teach me to be a great motivator and to rejoice whenever a soul — mine included — moves closer to you.
Resolution:I will spread my enthusiasm for the faith today.
Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC