Tuesday, February 23rd – Sr. Rose Marie Penouille O.Carm.
Gospel: MT 23:1-12
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.”
“They preach but they do not practice” Jesus said of the scribes and the Pharisees. This is a pretty sad accusation. Look at the many things they did to make others think highly of them without doing the more meaningful things that could inspire others to listen to and imitate them. Having taken their places on the seat of Moses gave them great power to preach and preach they did. But they did not back up their words with comparable actions. Judging by their actions, we see they worked hard to inflate their grasp for honor but lacked the humility to assist the poor and help others to carry their burdens.
Do you have special ability in math? Do you enjoy sports because you are an outstanding athlete? Are you a very good cook with baking your specialty? Are people attracted to you because of your delightful personality? Think about at least one good thing you do very well, better than many others. Whatever it is, remember that special gift comes to you from God. Consider the ways you use that special gift. Is it to inflate your own image or is it in service to others?
Our special gifts are not given to us to show off and gain honor for the display. They are ours to share humbly. In math class, when you are collaborating in your pods, do you respond gently to a request for help or do you just dole out answers to impress others with your great ability? You have many friends because of your welcoming personality. To maintain your exalted status, do you entertain only them or do you look about, see someone sitting alone, go over and start a conversation with her or him, or do you simply ignore her?
We are called to use our gifts in service to others not to aggrandize ourselves. Jesus is our model. He healed the sick and suffering. He was not afraid of the leper. He forgave sinners. As God, he could have had unlimited resources. Instead he lived like the common man in poverty and service to those in need. How can you, a teen-ager at Mount Carmel, be like the humble Jesus in living for and serving others? Gifted as he was, with all the resources that could have been his, he was simple, humble, loving and forgiving.A simple prayer that this reading brings to mind is “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like until thine.” Let us pray it every day asking that we may recognize when, where and how we can humbly serve others.
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