Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Do not be called ‘Rabbi’ and call no one on earth your father. At times we take the Lord’s words literally when we shouldn’t and not literally enough when we should. We do this time and time again when we want God’s Word to reflect our life, not His Son’s life. For this reason, the Lord established a Church; to correctly interpret and reflect the living Word of God and His Will for us.
When Christ spoke, he taught. When Christ touched, he healed. In everything He said and did, the Son beautifully reflected His Father’s love for us. In everything Jesus said and did, He set things straight.
We have a strong tendency to want to imitate God and all His works with people and all our things. This desire isn’t bad, but we typically fall short, very short, and instead end up replacing God and all His works with selfish people and all our selfish things.
We should be able to crown a king to imitate The King. But instead of imitating Him, our kings typically ends up replacing The King. We should be able to create a kingdom to imitate The Kingdom. But again, we end up replacing The Kingdom with a self-serving kingdom. We do this all the time, and in just about everything. We’ve replaced the world to walk through with a stage to step on to. We created awards to elevate disgrace and to ignore God’s grace. It’s all part of our childish way to get around God. It’s like playing an adult game of “make believe.” And we do this often so that we can feel like we are closer to our “god” and somewhat in “control” of our very own destiny.
The Lord told the crowd and his disciples: “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.”
Now, let’s be intelligent and graceful about all this. The Lord was not demanding that we put an end to the terms “Rabbi” and “Father”. He was not instructing us to no longer use these terms for those people who instructed us and raised us. Please! Let’s not be like the French who are currently debating whether or not to keep the terms “Mother” and “Father” on birth certificates. Please! Let’s not fall into their foolish hands!
The Lord wants to remind us that we were created in His image and likeness. All that we are and do comes from God. Therefore, when we instruct, we should instruct like our Heavenly Teacher. And when we have children, we should be like our Father in Heaven! For we have but one teacher and one Father, and all our teachers and fathers should reflect the one Teacher and Father of us all.
If Christ had not made his point clear enough to his disciples and to the people, I’m sure He would not have hesitated in giving a few more examples in his lesson by saying: “Do not be called ‘Boss.’ You have but one boss and all of you are workers. Call no one on earth your mother, for you have but one Mother in heaven.”
The scribes and 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. In a few days, all the eligible Cardinals of the Catholic Church will be going to Rome to elect a new Pope. Recently, there’s been a lot of talk in the media regarding who should go and who they should elect. Everyone has an opinion, but the Lord’s opinion is far more important: “do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.” The people in charge of electing a new Pope are all Cardinals and we know they are not all without sin.
So why all the fuss? Why all this talk?
Because there’s a tremendous push in the world of public opinion to have a Pope (along with priests, bishops and Cardinals) that “reflects” the will of the people. But like our Lord made clear in today’s Gospel passage, the servant of God must not necessarily reflect the will of the people, but rather the Will of the Father – especially in the truth He teaches. Let’s not forget an unforgettable fact: Our Lord was not popular among the people. He was crucified by the people and for the people.
A teacher is not necessarily a reflection of his/her students, but they better be a reflection of their school, especially in what they teach. They should always be teaching the truth, regardless of whether or not they live up to it.
Cardinals do not need to be of the people, by the people and for the people. They should be of God, for God and by God. They should preach the truth, and hope to God to live up to it.
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