Carry the gospel with you
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: The passage we read today from Matthew picks up the same theme we read in yesterday’s gospel from Luke: the need to make ourselves small in the eyes of the world. In this passage from Matthew, Jesus ties the failure to be thought of as of little consequence to a number of vices and then proposes corollary virtues to which we can strive. Jesus reflects in this narrative that there are among us people who are powerful and lay down rules that they enforce on people who are less powerful; even so, these same powerful people do not follow the rules they want others to follow: that is, they are hypocrites. There are people who make great shows about why they are special, but their outward signs of respectability do not match their interior realities: that is, they are inauthentic. There are people who want to occupy privileged places of honor and be held in special esteem: that is, they are haughty. Jesus rejects phoniness, guile, conceit. Instead, he called us to humility: a willingness to be counted as of little consequence, a deep honesty about all that is good and bad about ourselves, and a sense of right proportion about our place among the hosts of people who surround us and of whom God is especially fond.
Spiritual reading: If you are very busy, you should make a choice and employ yourself in the more important occupations where there is greater service of God, greater spiritual advantage for the neighbor, and the more general or perfect good. (Letter to Father Fulvio Androzzi, July 18, 1556, by Ignatius of Loyola)