Today’s Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12
I looked up what “phylacteries” means. They are little leather boxes, each containing strips of parchment inscribed with quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures. Jewish men wear them for morning prayer. What’s really cool about it is WHERE they wear them. One is worn strapped on the arm at the elbow area so that the words “touch their hearts” and another on the foreheads where they would help keep these words of God “in their minds.” Sounds a lot like how Catholics make the Sign of the Cross on our forehead, lips and heart at the start of the Gospel reading at Mass.
Jesus was warning his followers to avoid being like these proud, pompous men who made a show of their faith, but never put it into action. I picture it in modern times like some guy who walks the streets holding up the biggest Bible he can find, sharing scripture on a megaphone but stepping over the homeless man.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux compared the proud man to the top of a snow-capped mountain at the beginning of spring, and the humble man to the valley below. The melting snow, which is God’s grace, cannot flow upwards to the proud man: Through his attitude, he has put himself in a position in which he is incapable of receiving God’s grace. On the other hand, the humble man, since he is at the bottom of the mountain, fully receives the water of God’s grace, and therefore he can bear abundant fruit. Only the humble man can be truly in contact with God and let God’s grace work miracles in his life.
How can we humble ourselves so we can be in the best possible position to receive God’s grace?
Lord, may we never be so high that your grace cannot reach us. In your mercy, help us to see ways we can put others first.
Copyright 2017 Abby Brundage