(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.”
Even the Mighty and Powerful Must Kneel
Isaiah in the first reading addresses Judah and her rulers in a very sarcastic way. He calls them “rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah!” He calls them and their holy city of Jerusalem no better than the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah! The Prophet warms them that if they do not repent they would be punished like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Christ, too, has tern words to the teachers of the Law in our Gospel. He criticizes them for their hypocrisy and their hardness of heart! The disciples are warmed not to imitate the ways of Pharisees and scribes who presumed that they are holier than the rest of the people. Christ tells his disciples to be humble, to honestly admit that they are sinners in need of forgiveness.
The leaders of Judah in the time of Isaiah were callously unrepentant, so, too, were the leaders of Judea in the time of Jesus self-righteous. May it not be so with us today! All, without exception must humbly kneel and beg for mercy. Bishops, priests, religious, sisters, church leaders, all of us must humble ourselves before God. Even the mighty and powerful must kneel at the confessional.