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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Sunday 31st (A) in Ordinary Time

Gospel text (Mt 23,1-12): Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: «The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees sat on the seat of Moses. So you shall do and observe all they say, but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say. They tie up heavy burdens and load them on the shoulders of the people, but they do not even raise a finger to move them. They do everything in order to be seen by people; so they wear very wide bands of the Law around their foreheads, and robes with large tassels. They enjoy the first place at feasts and reserved seats in the synagogues, and being greeted in the marketplace and being called “Master” by the people.

»But you, do not let yourselves be called “Master” because you have only one Master, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Neither should you call anyone on earth “Father”, because you have only one Father, he who is in heaven. Nor should you be called “leader”, because Christ is the only leader for you. Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great».

«Whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great»

Fr. Miquel PLANAS i Buñuel (Montornès del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Lord depicts for us the Israel notable (Pharisees, teachers of the Law...). They live superficially, they are nothing but appearances: «They do everything in order to be seen by people» (Mt 23:5). And, on top, they fall into full incoherence, «for they do not do what they say» (Mt 23:3); they become slaves of their own self-deception as they are only seeking from men approval and appraisal. Their own consistency depends upon that. By themselves they are nothing but pathetic vanity, absurd pride, emptiness... conceit.

From the beginning of Mankind it keeps on being the most frequent temptation; the same cunning serpent goes on whispering in our ear: «No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad» (Gn 3:5). And we keep on stumbling through, we let ourselves to be called: “rabbi”, “father” and “leader”... and so many other futile qualificatives. More often than not, we want to fill places we are not fit for. It is the Pharisaic attitude.

Jesus' disciples ought not to be like that, on the contrary: «Let the greatest among you be the servant of all» (Mt 23:11). And, as they all have the same Father, they are all brothers. As usual, the Gospel clearly establishes we cannot separate the vertical dimension (Father) and the horizontal one (ours) or, as specified in last Sunday's Gospel, «You shall love the Lord, your God (…) and you shall love your neighbor as yourself» (Mt 22:37-39).

The entire liturgy of the Word for this Sunday is full of the tenderness and demand of filiation and fraternity. St. John's words reverberate in our heart: «If anyone says, ‘I love God’, but hates his brother, he is a liar» (1Jn 4:20). The new evangelization —more urgent, every day— demands from us more fidelity, confidence and sincerity along with the vocation we have received through the Baptism. If we do it our path of life will be lit up, «You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore» (Ps 16:11).