Jesus set the standard for all His true disciples to follow. He walked His talk, and practiced what He preached.

In today’s gospel, Jesus urges His followers to follow the teaching of their religious leaders, but not to imitate their bombast and hypocrisy. It is hard to believe today that the self-serving parade of piety that Jesus describes the Pharisees as practicing would attract anything but scorn, derision and outright laughter.

Because the Church is made up of human beings, there will be the temptation to strive for positions of power and prestige. Jesus shows His followers that the way of exaltation is humility and that the greatest among His children will be the one who becomes a servant of all. Times have changed! The life of Jesus shows that true holiness means being part of the community he served, keeping close to God, his father, and teaching, unlike the Pharisees, by both word and example.

The first principle Jesus gives is that those who would teach others must practice what they preach. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach. A person really does not know something until they put it into practice and tell others about it. There were many orthodox teachers in Jesus’ day but the problem He had with them was that they were long on telling others what to do and short on doing it themselves.

The second principle He mentions is that leaders should not tie up heavy burdens and lay them on peoples’ shoulders and then not lift a finger to help them, and finally, Jesus teaches against the desire for places, seats, and greetings of honor. There are teachers, fathers, and masters in this world but Jesus does not want His followers to clamor for titles of respect that do nothing but puff them up. Jesus is not forbidding a teacher from being called “Teacher.” He is not forbidding a father from being called “Father.” Even the Apostle Paul used the term “father” for his relationship to people and churches. The point He is bringing home to us is that we are not to clamor for honor and respect. It is through service that we become great. It is through humility that we are exalted. We are to constantly seek to humble ourselves . Then Jesus exalts us, so we must then humble ourselves even more, which leads to more exaltation. Thus, like John the Baptizer, we constantly seek to decrease so that Jesus may increase (Jn 3:30). If God then chooses to honor us with a crown of glory, we graciously receive it and instantly pass that crown of honor on to our God. Therefore, our only fondness for places of honor would be because Jesus gets more glory.

Today’s Gospel speaks eloquently about many things that we, leaders in the renewal, may find useful in the course of our service to the Lord. The first is: do we lead by example? As head of a ministry, do we put in more effort, time and resources into our service without counting the cost? Or are we forever harping on the load that we are carrying? The second question we must ask ourselves is: Who are we trying to please? Have we joined this Community because we seek recognition for our efforts or acceptance from our peers? Do we feel offended when our contributions have not been acknowledged? Do we feel slighted when some brother or sister is chosen for some service in which we feel we are more qualified? Finally, let’s ask ourselves this vital question: Do I want to be a leader because I want to lead, or is it because in imitation of Christ, I want to be the servant of all?


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