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31st Sunday of Ordinary Time – Following a Good Example

“The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all the 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’” (Matthew 23: 2-7).

Certain scribes and Pharisees in Jesus’ time were bad examples of religious leadership. Some did not practice what they preached; others did things only to draw attention to their piety. Some sought prominence in public places; others expected more of their followers than of themselves. These scribes and Pharisees wanted all of the privileges that went along with their positions but not the responsibilities.

This hypocrisy – religion that was all show and no substance – is what Jesus condemned.

Matthew invites us to draw parallels between these scribes and Pharisees and ourselves. Using religion for your own personal motives or wanting to be praised for your piety is an empty display of faith that does you no spiritual good. Religion is not to be flaunted and is not merely for show.

Those who are called to leadership should live their leadership in service. This servant leadership is the model that Jesus followed and what he calls us to emulate.

“The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23: 11-12).

Our challenge is not just to recognize good teaching or good leadership but to admire it and study it. It should influence our thoughts and actions. When it does, we are taking steps toward becoming the kind of leaders Jesus envisions for the world.

How are you called to lead? How could you be a better leader by example?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International

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