“All their works are performed to be seen.”

Now Jesus addresses the crowds as well as the disciples (Mt 23-1-12).  He points to the scribes and Pharisees as worthy to be listened to because of their teaching authority (they occupy the chair of Moses) but their example is not to be followed.  They put burdens on others but take it easy themselves.  They flaunt their religious garb and love human respect wherever they go.  Jesus tells His listeners not to seek after or glory in titles of “Teacher,” “Father,” or “Master,” but rather recognize that compared to God, who is perfectly all these things, they are simply humble servants.  If they embrace humility, they will be exalted.  If they prefer pride, they will be humbled.  The words at top sum up the general attitude of the religious leaders of Jesus’ time.  They are not to be emulated.  So this lesson does provide us an excellent addition to a good examination of conscience for us.  Do we exalt in trumpeting good works we have done?  Do we wear our faith on our sleeves primarily to garner adulation, deference, or favoritism?  This should not be our way.  “I” should not be in the picture.  We read here how we are commanded to be servants (reinforced most prominently at the Last Supper — Jn 13:13-15).  Since this is so, we are simply to follow what we are told to do, that is, our duty, without patting ourselves on the back (cf. Lk 17:10).  If there is a good reason to share some experience of ours in this regard, the focus should be completely on God (for His goodness in inspiring and enabling us to do this work) and others (whom we are called to love serve), while avoiding heralding our own contribution.  If it is the Lord’s will, the good we do will be noticed for the purposes of inspiring other and prompting them to follow our humble lead.  But all we should require for contentment is to know that we are conforming to God’s will for us in our lives “and your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Mt 6:4).

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