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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.”


REFLECTIONS: Do not follow their example

Jesus’ conflict with the scribes and Pharisees in chapter 23 of Matthew re­flects the situation not only in Jesus’ time but also in the time when Matthew’s Gos­pel was being written (around the year 85 AD).

Obviously the rabbi Jesus of Nazareth is not appreciated by the “theologians” of his time because of his “radical” stand on the Sabbath rest and on ritual purity and his association with tax collectors and sinners. He also attacks the hypocrisy of these reli­gious leaders.

In Matthew’s time, this continues with the confrontation between the Jewish syn­agogue that has now replaced the Temple as the heart of religion, and the growing community of believers in Jesus known as the Church. There is now a contest over the hearts and minds of the people. While the synagogue gathers around the Mosaic Law under the direction of the rabbis, the Chris­tians point to Christ as the only “Teacher.” The Jews also call their rabbi “Abba” (Fa­ther). The Christians, on the other hand, relate with God as the heavenly Father.

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Why do Catholics call their priest “Father”?

Is this not contradicted in the Gospel?

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.