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Denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees

Gospel Reading: Mt 23:1-12
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.

All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

You are all brothers
Jesus says this to his disciples to prevent them from acting like the scribes and Pharisees who display unfraternal behavior. They have made their religion a staging ground to gain advantage over others. Their spiritual leverage feeds on their inordinate craving to be on top. Religious practice becomes vanity.

They use their skill in interpreting the Scriptures to stun people. Their advanced knowledge has become a status symbol. Thus, they easily manipulate the uneducated Jews. They stylize their phylacteries and tassels to catch attention of others at prayer time and end up distracting the assembly.

For Jesus, this is not brotherhood but oppression. His disciples must not imitate these religious figures. They must be different. Jesus teaches them to be brothers to one another. He gives the reason why: they are all children of the Father.

When following Jesus, Christians should bear in mind their equal dignity before God. They should interact as brothers and sisters, as children of the same Father. Jesus himself has come to be a brother to all of us. In our communities, there should be no lords and slaves. Everybody must seek to serve others.

Are you fraternal to others?

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