Tuesday, March 10, 2009
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."
Class of 2012
It's deceptively easy to give advice. Anybody can have a better suggestion on work ethic, proper manners, better speech etiquette, improvement in social interaction, etc. Likewise it's very easy to get upset when being corrected by a person who then fails to follow his or her own advice.
But what Jesus is explaining in this passage is not being trapped by the hypocrisy of those who teach but do not practice what they teach. Instead, act in a way befitting someone who loves God - glean the positive aspect of their advice and pay no heed to the unconstructive side - and great will be your reward in Heaven.
"Do not be called 'Rabbi'," Jesus also says. Don't think you're so much better than anyone else that you can give advice - odds are you might not be following it perfectly yourself. Instead, take the words of the know-it-alls, modern-day hypocrites, whomever, cum granum salis, with a grain of salt. Extract what will bring you closer to living the way God wants us to live, and just leave the rest. Carry the burden you are given, even if the ones who place it on your shoulders aren't doing their job to help bear the load. Remember: you don't need that kind of immediate gratification for what you do. The eyes of God are aware of the good with the bad, and your labors of love will be repaid in full.