Gospel Reflection Nov 5 – Deacon Paul

By November 3, 2017Gospel Reflections

Sunday, November 5

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

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.”

You have probably heard the old adage: Do as I say, not as I do. Perhaps you have lived it from time-to-time, be it as a parent instructing a child, as a manager to an employee, as a coach to an athlete, or maybe as a Christian to an unbeliever. One of the worst things I think a person can be referred to or labeled is a hypocrite.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus addressed the crowds and His disciples by saying that the scribes and the Pharisees “preach BUT they do not practice.” Jesus took hypocrisy very seriously and He charged them with religious hypocrisy.

Likewise, we need to ask ourselves, are we a Christian, a follower of Christ and have a personal relationship with Him, or are we a Christian by name only? Do we live a life of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, or are we like the Pharisees whose ‘works were performed to be seen,’ and ‘loved places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues?’

The faith of Jesus that was manifest – not in serving Himself, or looking after His own self-preservation or happiness – but the faith of Jesus that was manifest on the cross, just a few days after Jesus said these words in Matthew 23. He didn’t just criticize the faith of the scribes and Pharisees with words; He showed them, and us, what real love, humility and service looks like.

Let us strive then, not to be hypocrites of our faith, but instead be people who “practice” what we preach. The faith of Jesus is about finding ways to serve, and searching for ways to be a servant – to live as a servant. Let us follow the teachings of Jesus, for ‘whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.’

Deacon Paul Zemanek