Gospel: Mt 23:1-12
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.“
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 warns them that if they do not repent they would be punished like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Christ, too, has stern words to the teachers of the Law in our Gospel. He criticizes them for their hypocrisy and their hardness of heart! The disciples are warned not to imitate the ways of the 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.