Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Reflection: Matthew 23:1-12

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent – Matthew 23:1-12

Today Jesus is being very critical of the Pharisees and the scribes. First, Jesus tells his listeners that they should observe the teachings of the Pharisees. He has no problem with their teaching. The teachings are correct. However, Jesus does not want his disciples to follow the example of the Pharisees.

The Pharisees truly were great teachers of the law. However, there was one problem: many of the Pharisees did not practice what they preached. Yet, the Pharisees bound up the people with many laws. They wanted their disciples and students to practice all the laws; however, the Pharisees did not always practice what they preached.

Many Pharisees also loved sitting in the places of honor as well as being called “Rabbi.” Thus, when they went to the synagogue or to a banquet, they automatically took the best seats that were available. The Pharisees also relished the regard and respect that was given to them due to their religious position.

Jesus saw all the outward signs of being religious in the Pharisees; however, he questioned their motivation. Did they simply enjoy the awe, esteem and the perks that were given to them? Or were they sincerely and deeply spiritual? Were they close to God and did they walk their talk?

Jesus instructs his disciples that their role is to serve the people — not to be served. They are to follow the Jewish laws and customs the Pharisees teach. However, they should not follow the Pharisees’ example. Jesus desires that his disciples truly be humble in the best sense of the word.

We also are the beloved of God and as the beloved of God, we also need to live by God’s law of love. We are called to care for our neighbor and all people who are in need (even if we may not like them). Today is a good day for us to be aware of our personal motivations. Why do we do what we do? Is it so others will think well of us? Or do we simply care about people and desire to help them as best we can?

Service is a great gift to give others. I suspect that most of the time our service may consist of small daily tasks or actions. However, in this process, perhaps the true gift is noticing the other’s need, noticing the person and then reaching out to serve in a loving way.

Today may we have open eyes and open hearts — and reach out to the people around us and care for them! And perhaps today someone will reach out and care for us!

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