Chapter 23 of the Gospel of Matthew contains Jesus’ denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus acknowledges the fact that having studied the Torah of Moses, they teach the Law and are honored by being called “Rabbi” or “Teacher.” But while they are experts in interpreting the Torah, Jesus censures them for not observing what they teach, and for burdening the people with minute regulations of the Law, which they themselves do not observe. Because they do not “walk the talk,” they offer only lip service to the Law.
Today, when the Bishop ordains a candidate to the Order of Deacons, the ministry of teaching and service, he says, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” This likewise applies to everyone: we should have less talk and more action. Someone once said to a preacher, “I do not hear what you say because what you do thunders in my ears.”
GOSPEL • MATTHEW 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. 12Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
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