The Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
|Jesus Denounces the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23)|
WHOEVER EXALTS HIMSELF WILL BE HUMBLED; BUT WHOEVER HUMBLES HIMSELF WILL BE EXALTED.
Our readings this Sunday caution us to lead others by example, with humility and meekness.
In our first reading (Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10), the prophet speaks on behalf of God telling the priests of Israel that they have violated the covenant of their fathers by leading the people astray. God gives them a stern warning to listen to him.
A great King am I, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations. And now, O priests, this commandment is for you: If you do not listen, if you do not lay it to heart, to give glory to my name, says the LORD of hosts, I will send a curse upon you and of your blessing I will make a curse. You have turned aside from the way, and have caused many to falter by your instruction; you have made void the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts. I, therefore, have made you contemptible and base before all the people, since you do not keep my ways, but show partiality in your decisions. Have we not all the one father? Has not the one God created us? Why then do we break faith with one another, violating the covenant of our fathers?
In our Gospel reading (Matthew 23:1-12), Jesus gave a similar rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees, saying they preach but do not practice and lay heavy burdens on the people's shoulders without any help from them. What they do, they do for show.
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 our Epistle reading (1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13), St. Paul gives us an example opposite that of the Pharisees, by practicing what he preached, serving the people out of love. Instead of laying heavy burdens like the Pharisees, he and his companions were "gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children."
Brothers and sisters: We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children. With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us. You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery. Working night and day in order not to burden any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us, you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe.
One lesson we might take from today's readings is that we too are called to keep the "covenant of our fathers" and lead others to Christ by our living example and our love. We can find no better example than Jesus himself and also, St. Paul and his companions. May we act with meekness and humility, giving of "our very selves" to others.
Click Here to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017