“All their works are performed to be seen”

This reading from Matthew (23: 1-12) seems more relevant than ever. In it, Jesus warns his disciples and the crowds about the scribes and Pharisees.

“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,” Jesus begins.

Then he warns, “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.

Then Jesus goes further:

“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.”

How often today do we run into those who seek to teach us “the way” but don’t live by the teaching? Those who call themselves “Christian” or “minister” but fail to live up to the title? I cannot tell you how often I see someone on social media like Twitter who includes Christian in their bio but fails miserably to show mercy or compassion or love.

Everyone wants to be a teacher but few want to live the life of the teacher. Everyone wants to be seen as devout and humble and received as righteous and a leader, but few want to do the work to meet all the requirements.

Jesus’ message is clear: Live by the rule of love these people say they believe in as taught in the Gospel, but don’t live by their example. And don’t put yourself up as the example, but live by the rule of love.

 

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