Then 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.
“Actions speak louder than words.” This phrase is a caution for the scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel. While they preached, gave instruction, and told others what to do, they did not listen to the intent of God’s laws. In our world today, power is highly sought after, whether in the workplace, relationships, or in the community. But, as Spiderman says, “with great power comes great responsibility.” The scribes and Pharisees did not use their power and influence as they should.
All of us have influence in our lives, and there are people watching our actions whether we realize it or not. In St. Ignatius’s First Principle and Foundation, he reminds us of the need to be indifferent to honor or dishonor. Admittedly, this can be difficult, but Jesus tells us that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” How can you let your actions show that you are humble before God?
—The Jesuit Prayer team
Let me have too deep a sense of humor to be proud.
Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly.
Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human,
and most worthy of your serious consideration.
—Daniel A. Lord, SJ
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