DAILY GOSPEL COMMENTARY: “HE WHO HUMBLES HIMSELF WILL BE EXALTED” (Mt 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.
- In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us against the vices of the scribes and the Pharisees, who had the authority to teach the Law of Moses, but do not practice what they preach.
- The disciples must learn to distinguish the Law which is read out and taught in the synagogues, from the practical interpretation of the Pharisees which could be seen from the way they live.
- Our Lord underlines the importance of living a life which is coherent to our faith and the effectiveness of teaching with the good example of one’s life.
- We could also learn that authority is always aimed at service of others, and not for self-benefit nor for vanity’s sake.
- If read considering the context, the phrase “call no one on earth your father” is actually a WARNING so as NOT TO AMBITION AND DESIRE HONORIFIC CONDITION, TREATMENT, TITLES AND SUPERIORITY OVER AND ABOVE OTHERS IN THIS LIFE, as the scribes and Pharisees had done, moved by their pride.
- When Jesus said “call no one on earth your father,” he was using a HYPERBOLE, that is an extravagant expression not to be taken literally. As such, it is not against the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ to call person, “father,” due to natural or spiritual paternity. More on this here.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ humbly served us throughout His Life, but above all during His Passion and Death on the Cross, which culminated in the triumphant glory of His Resurrection and Ascension into heaven.
- This is also our way as Christians: the way of humility manifested in serving others for God. We must not fear humilliation for only then we could grow in the virtue of humility.
- On the contrary, a spirit of pride, vanity and wordly ambition is incompatible with our life as disciples who wish to faithfully follow Christ.
TOPIC: DO YOU KNOW THE JOY OF CHRIST-LIKE HUMILITY AND SIMPLICITY OF HEART?
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus criticizes the Scribes and Pharisees. He does not target all of them because there were several good Pharisees – Nicodemus, who visited him one night and who was involved in His burial; Gamaliel, who appeared in the Acts of the Apostles, a man of justice and integrity; and, of course, Paul, one of the greatest saints, who evangelized the pagans.Jesus was not attacking particular persons but mindsets which continue to exist today. He tells the Jews, and us, to follow what their religious authorities teach, for they are good teachings. But He also tells us not to follow the examples of authorities; “for they preach but they do not practice.”
TOPIC 2: ARE YOU A GOOD CHRISTIAN ROLE MODEL?
Today’s readings from Isaiah and from Matthew are replete with reflections and learnings to live by. They speak of being good role models to others.
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