Today’s Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12
Today’s Gospel reading from Matthew presents us with a fundamental choice: will we live in illusion or reality, in false pride or true humility?
Jesus chides the scribes and Pharisees for their religious practices. As Christians, it is easy to denigrate the Jewish Pharisees, thinking we have risen above such behaviour because we live in New Testament times, no longer under the burden of the Old Testament laws. However, before we judge these professional religious too harshly, we should remember they were simply striving to be good, observant Jews. In their zeal, they inadvertently ended up seeking respect for themselves rather than inspiring love for God. Religious duty became a burden rather than a joy. It is a mistake which most Catholics fall into when they get serious about spirituality. I know I did.
Basically, the Pharisees slipped into the very human tendency to live an illusion. an illusion which stated they could be holy through their own efforts. Catholics can also fall into the mistake of living under the burdens of false expectations and rules. When we see ourselves, in reality, the way God sees us, we realize we desperately need the power of Christ’s death and Ressurection to save us from ourselves.
Christ was a servant for our sake. He humbled himself, even to death on a cross. What is true Christ-like humility? Humility is self-knowledge, seeing ourselves in reality as God sees us. The humble do not trust in themselves, but trust in God and in the power of His love and saving grace. True humility is living in reality, in joy and simplicity.
Jesus closes this passage with strong words which reiterate the crux of His message to His disciples, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
When do I slip into pride, raising myself up as an example to be admired by those around me rather than serving with humility and joy?
Oh Lord, fill me with Your love and a grant me a servant’s heart so I may walk in joy and holiness, a humble light of hope to those around me.
Copyright 2016 Melanie Jean Juneau
Melanie Jean Juneau is a mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life.