by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Jesus speaks with prophetic indignation. His speech to the people and His disciples is a harsh criticism of the religious leaders of Israel. Matthew picks it up eight decades later so that the leaders of the Christian Church won't fall into the same behavior.
Can we remember Jesus' recriminations today peacefully, in an attitude of conversion, without getting into any empty debates? His words are an invitation to bishops, priests, and those of us who have any responsibility in the Church to review our performance.
"They don't practice what they preach." Our greatest sin is inconsistency. We don't live what we preach. We have power but we lack authority. Our behavior discredits us. If we were to set the example of a more gospel-centered life, the atmosphere in many Christian communities would change.
"They lay heavy burdens on people's shoulders...but they aren't willing to lift a finger to move them." It's true. We are often demanding and stern with others, understanding and indulgent with ourselves. We overwhelm the humble people with our demands but we don't make it easy for them to welcome the gospel. We are not like Jesus, who was concerned with making His yoke light since He was simple and humble of heart.
"Everything they do is to be seen by people." We can't deny that it's very easy to live hung up on our image, almost always seeking to "look good" in others' eyes. We don't live according to God who sees everything in secret. We are more attentive to our personal prestige.
"They love being first and in the places of honor...and to be greeted reverently in the streets." We are ashamed to admit it, but we like it. We like to receive special treatment, not like just another brother or sister. Is there anything more ridiculous than a witness to Jesus seeking reverence and distinction from the Christian community?
"Don't let yourselves be called 'master'...or 'guide'...because only One is your master and guide: Jesus Christ." The gospel commandment cannot be clearer: renounce all titles so as not to overshadow Christ; direct the believers' attention only to Him. Why doesn't the Church do anything to eliminate the many titles, prerogatives, honors, and ranks to better show the humble and friendly face of Jesus?
"Call no one on earth your father because you have but one Father in heaven." For Jesus, the title "Father" is so unique, intimate, and profound that it ought not to be used by anyone in the Christian community. Why do we allow it?