In today’s Gospel Our Lord makes an admonition to the disciples that for us has become a basic rule of thumb: practice what you preach. All believers are brothers because they all share one Father in Heaven, and they are all disciples because they follow the teachings of one Master, Christ. Through baptism we’ve all received an equal dignity in the eyes of God, and when any member of the Church forgets that, other members of the Church suffer through their bad example.
At the same time, Our Lord does not deny that the scribes and Pharisees whom he is criticizing actually have an authority that comes from Moses that is to be respected. Today there are some who are tempted to discard the preaching because certain preachers do not practice it. That’s not what Jesus teaches us. It’s sad when the preacher gets in the way of the message by putting himself first, but if he is preaching what has been handed down to us from Christ through the apostles and their successors, it is still a teaching that is necessary for us.
The core lesson today to bishops, priests, and deacons is to not let themselves get in the way of communicating the message: it’s not about ego, titles, or honors, but, rather, about communicating the message Our Lord has entrusted to the Church’s pastors through the centuries. It’s a lesson to every believer as well: through our bad example we can hinder the spread of the Gospel. Let’s ask Our Lord today to help us be good brothers and disciples who share his message with those who need it without ego trips, so that they welcome the message and don’t get hung up on the messenger.
Readings: Ruth 2:1–3, 8–11, 4:13–17; Psalm 128:1b–5; Matthew 23:1–12.