RENEW International - Home   RENEW International - Blog   RENEW International - Shop   RENEW International - Donate   RENEW International - Request Info
Search

 
 

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Those Who Wish to Lead


“Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,’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. 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. 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'” (Matthew 23: 1-12).
 
Certain scribes and Pharisees at the time of Jesus are bad examples of religious leadership: some did not practice what they preached; others did things only to get attention; some sought prominence in public places; still others made a great show of their religious piety; and others expected more of their followers than of themselves. In short, there were those who wanted all of the privileges and trappings came went with their position, but did not live up to the accompanying responsibilities.
 
Writing for his community, Matthew invites them to draw parallels for themselves. That same challenge from Jesus echoes down through the centuries to us today. Jesus’—and Matthew’s— first piece of advice is “Don’t be like those Pharisees!” Don’t use religion and religious leadership for your own selfish motives, to impress people and to be praised for your “piety.” Such empty displays do you no spiritual good. This Gospel proposes the model of servant leadership—the style of leadership that Jesus himself exemplifies. Matthew’s whole Gospel has been crafted to show Jesus as the greatest teacher and his whole Gospel has implied what Matthew now puts explicitly on the lips of Christ: “You have only one Teacher, the Christ.”
 
Jesus teaches that religion is a liberating reality, freeing people from whatever bound them: fear, guilt, self-absorption, materialism, addictions of various kinds. The life Jesus wants us to have is that of the children of God, free from all evils like selfishness, pride, arrogance, abuse of power, and resentment. Those who are called to leadership are to live their leadership in service in a way that liberates people.
 
We would be missing the point if we saw this reading merely as a condemnation of all scribes or all Pharisees. Jesus begins by referring to the good teachings from the scribes and Pharisees; he is critical only of their abuses of power and position. Generalizations about groups are dangerous, because they are never completely true. This does not diminish the seriousness of the offenses committed by the few, nor does it negate the good done by the many.
 
Our challenge is to not just recognize good teaching or good leadership when we encounter it, but to admire it, study it, and allow it to influence our thoughts and actions.
 
– How has Jesus called me to servant leadership and how have I responded?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Please read our comment guidelines.

 
Home / Request Information / Site Map / Contact Us / Shop Online
Why Catholic? / ¿Por qué ser católico? / ARISE Together in Christ / Longing for the Holy
Campus RENEW / Theology on Tap / RENEW Worldwide