Mt 23: 1-12 They do not practice
1 Then addressing the crowds and his disciples Jesus said,
2 'The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses.
3 You must therefore do and observe what they tell you; but do not be guided by what they do, since they do not practise what they preach.
4 They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people's shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they!
5 Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader headbands and longer tassels,
6 like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues,
7 being greeted respectfully in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.
8 'You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one Master, and you are all brothers.
9 You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven.
10 Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ.
11 The greatest among you must be your servant.
12 Anyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.
In today's Gospel we hear Jesus denouncing the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus instructed his disciples and the crowd to follow what they preach but not what they do.
We should admit that not all the scribes and Pharisees during those times are signs of contradictions unto themselves. However, the Gospel writer used them to teach us a very important lesson that our Blessed Lord wants us to learn. We should not be people of dichotomization.
What we say should reflect our actions. If we say this is bad and should not be done, then we, ourselves, are bound not to do it. The preacher himself should be the first one to practice what he is preaching. This is the right thing to do.
But we are humans, weak and easily tempted. Due to this reality we falter and sometimes contradict what we preach to others. God surely understands us because Christ himself experienced how it is to be tempted. We are weak, yes, but we are also capable of transcending to be able to resist temptation. All we need to do is trust in God and pray to pass each test.
Let us not be like the Pharisees and scribes described in the Gospel today. Let us try harder to resist temptations and pray harder. Let us not be like the Pharisees who have been dichotomized because of their contradicting words and actions.
Fray Aimark Asor, OSA