Year A: 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 23: 1-12
Today’s Gospel reminds us of the saying “Do as I say not as I do”. Jesus is contrasting what the scribes and Pharisees say about the Law - and how they act - they do not, as He says, practise what they preach. Not only that - but their teaching about the Law and its regulations places great burdens on people which they do nothing to help them to cope with.
Their role, as they see it, puts them above other people and they demand - and obviously get plenty of attention and respect from those around them.
Jesus then turns to those who are around Him - His disciples and also people who have gathered to listen and states quite forcibly that this is not how it is to be with them. They are, in fact, to avoid any title which suggests that they are superior to others - for they are always answerable to One greater than themselves.
This is a hard teaching - and one we have not always succeeded in complying with!
Ultimately, as Jesus says, those who exalt themselves will be humbled - and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
This is the crux of the matter. The world does honour achievement - and those in authority are often caught up in titles and ways of dressing that are designed to alert people to that authority. The question to be asked is - does the person concerned really believe that they have earned or deserved it - or do they recognise that it is a gift they have been given - and that they will be answerable for how they have used it.
Humbling oneself is not making oneself into a doormat - but keeping oneself in proportion.
It is the humility that enabled a man such as Basil Hume to be Primate of England and Wales - to be treated with great honour and deference and to wear the attire which convention demands - and yet to retain great simplicity of heart, mind and soul.
Humility means living life with at least half an eye on heaven - from where the good things come - and where, eventually, we will be asked to return them.
What does it mean for me?
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