“They preach but they do not practice.”

Saturday’s reading (Mt 23:1-12) has Jesus once again berating the scribes and Pharisees.  He acknowledges their authority to teach but urges His listeners not to imitate their behavior (not helping others, seeking honor and accolades, and the like).  Jesus then tells the crowd that they should not seek honor for themselves as they have one teacher, father, and master.  He concludes by speaking of the merits of servanthood and humility.  It is certainly easier to preach than to practice what we preach.  It is a start, though, if at least we are conveying truth.  Aligning our actions with what we know to be true is a constant struggle, though.  Temptation to sin is always waiting to strike.  Thus prayer and confession are so important in conforming ourselves to Christ.  They are the antidote to begin diminishing and ultimately eliminating even the most stubborn sins.  It is a lifelong battle to try to heed the call to “be perfect,  just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).  Yet we must be staunch in our efforts to do so.  Our example as a Christian is incredibly important, so much so that others may base their own spiritual journeys on how well (or how poorly — see Mt 18:6, Mk 9:42, and Lk 17:2 for the dire consequences if we fail) we live our lives in conformity to what we profess to believe.  We must be vigilant against sin, Satan, and death for our sakes and for all the “little ones” we influence knowingly or unknowingly.

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