THEY DON’T DO
WHAT THEY SAY
Jesus speaks with prophetic indignation. His discourse, directed to the people and to his disciples, is a harsh criticism of Israel’s religious leaders. Matthew records it around 80 AD so that the leaders of the Christian Church don’t fall in similar behaviors.
Can we today recall Jesus’ recriminations peacefully, in an attitude of conversion, without any spirit of sterile polemics? His words are an invitation for bishops, priests and any of us who have any church responsibility, to make an examination of our own conduct.
«They don’t do what they say». Our greatest sin is incoherence. We don’t live what we preach. We have power, but we lack authority. Our behavior betrays us. A more evangelical example of life would change the atmosphere in many Christian communities.
«They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they!». How true. Frequently we are demanding and harsh with others, but understanding and lax with ourselves. We suffocate the simple people with our requirements, but don’t help them welcome the Gospel. We aren’t like Jesus who concerned himself with making their burden light, since he’s humble and has a simple heart.
«Everything they do is done to attract attention». We can’t deny that it is very easy to go about conscious of our own image, almost always trying to «look good» in others’ eyes. We don’t live before that God who sees in secret. We’re more attentive of our personal prestige.
«They like to take the place of honor and the front seats… and be greeted respectfully in the market squares and having people call them Master». We’re embarrassed to confess it, but we like it. We seek to be treated special, not like just anyone. Is there anything more ridiculous that one of Jesus’ witnesses seeking to be distinguished and honored by the Christian community?
«You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called master… teacher… because only one is your Master and your Teacher: the Christ». The Gospel mandate can’t be clearer: Renounce titles in order to not overshadow Christ; direct believers’ attention only toward him. Why doesn’t the Church do anything to get rid of so many titles, privileges, honors and ranks in order to show better the humble and close face of Jesus?
«You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven». For Jesus, the title of Father is so unique, profound, and intimate that it mustn’t be used for anyone in the Christian community. Why do we allow it?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf