In the time of Jesus, the scribes and the Pharisees enjoyed the respect of the people for their knowledge and observance of the Law of Moses. The teacher of the Law was addressed as “Rabbi” (‘my master,’) from the Hebrew rab which means “great” or “distinguished.” Though Jesus acknowledges their authority, his polemic against them focuses on their hypocrisy. Their practice belies their pretenses; they demand adherence to the prescriptions of the Law, but they feel privileged to be above it. It is like arrogantly saying, “What are we in power for?” For the Christian community, Jesus is the only “Rabbi” because he alone teaches the way of God in truth and in holiness.
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. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Source: “365 Days with the Lord 2022,” St. Pauls, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.