August 25, 2012
Matthew 23: 1-12
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi.
But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/
Substance Over Image
I heard a story once concerning the Little Sisters of the Poor. While fundraising for one of their new homes for the aged poor, they were offered a multi-million dollar gift which included one condition: that the new home be named after the family behind the gift. The sisters smiled politely and thanked them for their generosity, but informed them that all their houses are named after saints. The sisters were given an ultimatum: you will not receive anything if you do not name it after their family and, if the sisters did not receive the gift, they might not be able to pay for the building. At the end of the day, the home was built and it was named after a family: the Holy Family. The sisters found that over the years, St. Joseph was the best fundraiser. God takes care of those who serve others. Maybe the story is apocryphal. But I sure hope it’s true.
Yesterday’s reflection discussed the attractive power of leading an ordered and disciplined life whose focus is God. Today’s reading from Matthew completes the picture. Not only an ordered life, but a life spent in humble service does more to spread the kingdom than any number of 10-year plans. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. He tells us today that the exalted will be humbled but the humble will be exalted. That is to say, the Lord sees the character of our hearts.
He knows how we use the talents and privileges we enjoy, whether we use them for self-aggrandizement or for building up those who are weak and creating good things where none existed before. Some people by birth, education, and talent, will gravitate toward exalted positions. This in and of itself is not bad —it’s natural. Our goal is to allow God to draw all these talents into the service of God and neighbor. All we have has been given to us by God. Let us imitate God by continuing the process.
—Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J.
“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?” ― Mother Teresa
Lord, it is so easy to fall into the trap of appearances. Too often we can place image over substance. When we manipulate our good deeds, our compliments, or gift giving to bring praise upon ourselves then we have fallen into behavior that you strongly warned against. Lord, help us to align our actions with loving intentions. And should we start down the path of hypocrisy, help us to refocus our hearts and reclaim a sincerity rooted in our relationship with you.
― The Jesuit Prayer Team
Please share the Good Word with your friends!