The Gospel according to 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.”
Today’s Gospel is a reminder that all of us on earth are brothers and sisters. No one in God’s eyes is any better than any other. The challenge is that we have to live with that perspective, and not think that anything we do makes us any “holier” or “better” than anyone else. Easy enough to say, but definitely not easy to do. It is one of those challenges that I try to meet each and every day. Suffice it to say that I do better some days than others!
During this time of Lent, we are reminded that we are to be the servants of others. Jesus says it clearly at the end of today’s Gospel. It does not mean that we should not take care of our needs and expect others to do it for us. It does mean that we are called to be more mindful that we really do not need that much, and for the excess we have, we are called to share it. That’s the “almsgiving” that is one of the pillars of Lent.
We are blessed this week to be on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Just yesterday, we traveled through the ancient city of Jericho, which is in the Palestinian territory, and we witnessed just how poor and how much poverty there was there. It touched our hearts and made us want to do whatever we could to help these least brothers and sisters of ours.
No matter how Lent has gone for us so far, let us take the challenge to act a little more in service of our fellow human being. Let us be thankful to God for all the blessings He has given to us, and let us ask Him to show us how we can share our blessings with others. If we all did that, think of how changed the world would be!
Let each of us try to serve others, to recognize the face of Jesus in that brother or sister whom we meet, and to render love and care, just as Jesus would do. And, if we fail, let us turn to that same loving Lord whom we call Our Father, and ask Him to forgive us, and to help us to do better the next time.
Action for the Day: Do a kind act today, but don’t let anyone see it or know that it was you. Then, thank God for that opportunity to serve.
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