Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have sat down on the chair of Moses. So you shall do and observe all they say; but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say. They tie up heavy burdens and load them on the shoulders of the people, but they do not even lift a finger to move them. They do everything in order to be seen by people: they wear very wide bands of the law around their foreheads, and robes with large tassels. They enjoy the first places at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and they like being greeted in the marketplace, and being called ‘Master’ by the people.
But you, do not let yourselves be called Master, because you have only one Master, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Neither should you call anyone on earth Father, because you have only one Father, he who is in heaven. Nor should you be called Leader, because Christ is the only Leader for you. Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great.
In this gospel scene, we see Jesus exercising his authority as a teacher as he had frequently done throughout his public ministry. He was well aware that to be recognized as a teacher during his time was a source of pride and power. Like many cultures, past or present, teachers have often been put on a pedestal, an enviable position that places them in a situation of power and influence over their students or disciples. Being in such position can easily feed one’s ego, especially if one is hungry for recognition and honor. Such position can also be the source of temptation in abusing one’s power for personal advantage. We see this happening today not just in societies but also in the church. In the gospel, the teachers of the law became greedy for honor and recognition forgetting that the authority entrusted to them was to be exercised for service to others and not for self-aggrandizement. The spirit of ambition and pride, or any form of abuse of one’s position, is totally unsuited with being a disciple of Jesus who stressed the need for true humility for his followers. “Let the greatest among you be the servant of all.”
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