Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, October 30, 2011
[ Year A, Proper 26, RCL ]
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."
Matthew 23 [ the Gospel reading for Sunday, October 30 ]
We have a lot of people around us today who “talk the talk” but who don’t “walk the walk” – especially politicians and business leaders, but including many religious “leaders”, who are more into palaces and Rollses than servanthood to their Wisdom teachers and their disciples.
So, think about this today. But. I think the principle “warning” from the Gospel today is directed at each one of us. First: don’t get distracted. You can call your dad or your male priest “father”. You can call those who instruct you “teacher”. As long as those persons meet the criterion: are the “fathers/mothers” Godly, and are the teachers “Messianic”. In other words, are your fathers/mothers and your teachers speakers and doers of the Truth? Do such claim honour because they “lord it over” others, or do they deserve honour because their greatness derives from service to the rest of us?
You and I must be responsible for where we give our allegiance. And for discerning to whom we justly give honour. The quality of our society is up to us. Those who “exalt themselves” must be humbled by us, by our refusal to grant them authority or power. Those who “humble themselves” must be exalted by our granting to them authority. We the people determine to whom honour is due as authentic leaders and teachers.
Where our “treasure” is, there our heart will be also.