Simplicity that is unusual, yet necessary
There is, in Jesus, consistency between thought and word, also between preaching and doing. We are not Christians if we lack such simplicity.
Jesus addresses this time the crowds and his disciples this to reassure them. That is because a religious leader’s bad behavior, lack of simplicity, can easily puzzle and discourage them.
And Jesus makes the point that the distinction between the teaching office and those who hold it is key. One who recognizes that the bad behavior of teachers does not necessarily void official teachings can stay calm and upbeat. After all, it is God who guarantees the efficacy of the office.
But Jesus does not let the bad teachers off the hook. Rather, he strongly denounces their saying one thing and then doing another. He brings to light, besides, their being unbearable, their boastfulness and conceitedness. He also criticizes their craving for others’ recognition and service.
But nothing of this sort, of this lack simplicity and sincerity, among us who seek to follow Jesus.
Jesus makes it quite clear that one should not follow the example given by professional teachers who turn aside from the way. They cause many to falter in the matter of keeping the law. Instead of imitating them, then, we must be servants of others, if we want to belong to Jesus. We should humble ourselves, rather than exalt ourselves.
We will follow the contagious example of service and humility our Teacher and Master has given us. He washed the feet of his disciples; we will do likewise. We shall imitate the one who did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life for all. Our affection for our brothers, sisters—we have but one Father—should move us to give them our very selves.
In that way, ours will be the simplicity of the poor people who keep the true religion (SV.EN XI:190). Like the poor people with living faith, we, who will imitate Jesus, shall never lose patience and hope.
And what happens when we help, with simplicity, those in need, as Jesus did? We surely proclaim his death, his total self-surrender, until he comes. Of course, that was how the mother of Vincentian bishop, Andrew E. Bellisario, proclaimed it in a contagious manner.
Lord Jesus, enkindle within us the simplicity that will break the mold of hypocrisy, duplicity and pride we witness today.
5 November 2017
31st Sunday in O.T (A)
Mal 1, 14b – 2, 2b. 8-10; 1 Thes 2, 7b-9. 13; Mt 23, 1-12