Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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 because their teachings are correct.  However, Jesus does not want his disciples to follow the example of the Pharisees.

The Pharisees were great teachers of the law.  There was one problem, however: many of the Pharisees did not practice what they preached.  The Pharisees bound up the people with many laws and wanted their disciples and students to practice all of the laws, but they did not always follow the laws themselves. 

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 that the Pharisees exhibited, yet Jesus questioned their motivation.  Did they simply enjoy the awe, esteem, and perks that were given to them or were they sincerely and deeply spiritual? 

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 as the Pharisees taught, but they were not to follow the Pharisees’ example.  Jesus hoped that his disciples would 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 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 aware of our personal motivations!  Why do we do what we do?  Is it so others will think highly of us?  Is it because 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 consists of small daily tasks or actions.  However in this process, perhaps the true gift is noticing another’s need and then reaching out to serve in a loving way! 

Today may we have open eyes and open hearts.  May we reach out to the people around us and care for them.  Perhaps today someone will reach out and care for us.

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