Malachi 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10
1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13
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.”
Good News Reflection:
Today’s Gospel reading contains a verse that, when taken literally, has been used by some Protestants to condemn Catholicism because we call our priests “Father.” By that logic, when Jesus said, “Call no one on earth your father,” he meant our dads, too, right? Did he never call St. Joseph by the title father? Perhaps when Jesus as a lad had a question about carpentry he said, “Hey dude who’s married to Mom!” I don’t think so.
To understand what Jesus means in this scripture, we need to read the whole passage: This singled-out verse is actually part of a teaching about equality. He is telling us that we must not consider anyone to be superior to ourselves — no one but God is superior to us.
Jesus says here: “The greatest among you must be your servant.” At other times in other scriptures, Jesus says that if we want to be greatest, we have to be the servant of all, because we must not think of ourselves as superior to others. But in today’s lesson he’s telling us not to think of ourselves as inferior, either. He trying to cure our low self-esteem.
Do you know, for example, that as a person you are not inferior to the pope? This is why he’s called the servant of the servants of God. As Christ’s representative in Church leadership, he serves us in everything he does, whether it’s presiding at Mass or writing a Church document or making authoritative decisions.
No matter what someone’s credentials are, no matter how much authority God has given to our priests and other Church leaders, and no matter how rich or famous or well-liked anyone is, we are all equally loved by God. We’re all equally important to God. To see our worth, we must learn to see ourselves through God’s eyes.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
Do you feel served by those who have higher status? Why or why not? When you don’t, how much of this is your own attitude of assuming that you’re inferior? What will you do to shift your thinking and accept your own value according to God’s perspective?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
When someone’s job or talents or position in the family or church seems greater than yours, how do you overcome your feelings of inferiority? How does Jesus convey to you that you are inferior to no one? Describe a time when you felt inferior but then became aware of your equal value. (This story will help others who are struggling to overcome their own feelings of inferiority.)
Dear Father, with Your Holy Spirit help me make my heart humble. I need the humility of a child who knows that he alone can do nothing, but with his Dad nothing can stop him! Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart resemble Yours. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica