Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long.
They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven.
Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
In the Israelite culture, to have a Father, a master, a teacher, was to say that you are protected and cared for. You are not abandoned, not alone. God commanded the Israelites to give special care to the widow, the orphan, and the refugee. Yet, rather than creating community, the Pharisees pushed people outside as they elbowed their way to honors and prestige.
Christ overturns our view of social strata, of successful ones and failed ones, of outsiders and insiders and states that all have one Father. All are protected and cared for and have a place in God’s order. Wherever we are on the strata, God longs to be with us.
Aware of our total dependence on God, we care for others not out of obligation or condescension; we draw near to them because Christ draws us all together in himself. Wherever Christ is, that is where we want to be, whatever the cost.
What would it be like to see our community, family, school or work as Christ sees it? Where in our community is Christ inviting us to labor alongside him?
—Cyril Pinchak, S.J. is a first year theology student at Regis College in Toronto. He taught previously at University of Detroit High School & Academy in Detroit, MI.
Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the
benefits and blessings you have given me,
for the pains and insults which you have
borne for me.
Merciful Friend, Teacher, and Redeemer,
May I know you more clearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
—St. Richard of Chichester, in For You, O God, © 1998, Loyola University Chicago.
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