Daily Reflection
August 26th, 2000
Maureen McCann Waldron
The Collaborative Ministry Office
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Ezekiel 43:1-7
Psalms 85:9-14
Matthew 23:1-12

A friend of mine talks about his grandmother, an immigrant from Ireland.  She never gave compliments saying that her loved ones didn’t need to be “getting a big head.”  Her attitude might sound harsh, but it wasn’t from a lack of love or awareness of an accomplishment. Perhaps she simply felt that she could help her family best by teaching them humility. 

Jesus is less blunt about humility in today’s gospel, but his message is a caution about living our lives in truth.  He wanted us to understand about the self-important Pharisees who preached one message, but lived another.  The message they spoke was a good one, but was lost in the reality of how they lived their lives.  Places of honor at banquets, showy prayer shawls and public privileges all contributed to their smugness and a lack of compassion for those they taught.   They dictated a heavy burden of complicated rules and guidelines for honoring God, but the Pharisees themselves didn’t even follow them. It might have gotten lost in the splendid shuffle of being at the center of attention.

It’s not that we have to see something wrong with places of honor or privileges, but those things can fill our heads with a confused set of values, leading us away from the real message of Jesus.  “The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest,” he says in today’s gospel.  It’s that simple.  Serving our brothers and sisters is more important than anything else we do because it’s what Jesus asks us to do and how he asks us to live. 

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