15TH MARCH 2022
Readings: Isaiah 1:10,16-20/Psalm 50:8-9,16bc-17, 21, 23/Matthew 23:1-12
THEME: THE PRICE OF HUMBLE SERVICE
Today’s Readings speak of turning away from our wicked ways and repenting, not only because of the sins and wrongdoings committed intentionally or otherwise, but also that we might be free to serve others rather than serving ourselves. The First Reading took place before the Babylonian Exile where Isaiah addresses the Chosen People of Israel, reminding them that it is not enough to just turn away from wrong doing and sin, they must also do, search for justice, redress the wrong, hear the cry of the poor and come to their aid, and defend the helpless. This message is as much for us as the people of God during this time of Lent. If we commit ourselves to doing the right things, it will be a sign that we are serious about metanoia – change of heart, re-directing our lives toward God, and God will be forgiving us our sins. The Psalm picks up this message and proclaims that what God wants of us in our lives is that of service, not just rituals – doing what is right, not doing of rites/rituals. In the Gospel, Jesus proclaims that the only one worthy of being Ruler and Father is anyone who follows His example - to a servant-leader.
The context of the Gospel is that it was the third day of the very first “Holy Week” in Jerusalem, a day of controversy and personal attacks on Jesus. Jesus was under attack by the religious leaders of Israel for rejecting Him as the Messiah. To awaken them to their own blindness, he pronounced eight woes against these religious leaders, calling them hypocrites and publicly humiliating them because they were more concerned about self-promotion than serving others. For Jesus the Scribes and Pharisees committed these three sins: “They do not practice what they teach” (v 3), since they lack integrity of life and fail to practice what they preach, namely, justice, mercy, and charity. (2) They overburden the ordinary people with thousands of rules and regulations. And (3) “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (v 5).
FOR US TODAY: We need servant-leaders in a serving community. The Church is a servant-community in which those who hunger, and thirst are to be satisfied; the ignorant are to be taught; the homeless are to receive shelter; the sick are to be cared for; the distressed are to be consoled; and the oppressed are to be set free. Hence, leaders should have a spirit of humble service in thought, word, and deed. We need to live the Faith we profess. Our Faith tells us that we are all brothers and sisters, children of the same Heavenly Father. Hence, we should always pray for each other. Instead of judging the poor, we should be serving them both directly and through our efforts on behalf of economic justice. Instead of criticizing those of other races, we should be serving them both directly and through our efforts on behalf of racial justice. Instead of ignoring the homeless, we should treat them as human beings, our brothers and sisters, then serve them through efforts to supply them with adequate housing.
We need to accept the responsibilities which go with our titles. Titles and polite forms exist to remind each of us of our specific responsibilities in society. Hence, let us use everything we are and have in a way that brings glory to God, by serving His children. In doing so, people should be able to see Jesus in and through our actions of caring and sharing. Thus, we need to use the gifts and talents God has given us, such as the ability to communicate, to be compassionate and to reach out to others so that they may know that their God loves them and cares for them even more than what our actions imply. Our actions should always point to the God Who wants to deepen a relationship with each and every person. God bless you as you humbly serve all people without distinction of colour or race or tribe, Amen.