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Sunday 5th November 2017



Matthew 23:1-12

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.
  ‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’
Gospel Commentary

The scriptures tell us the story of how pride brought about the downfall of Adam. The pride, rebellion and disobedience of Adam and Eve, of all of us, is the beginning of a long story which is still running. Human nature has not changed and does not change generally. Adam said, ‘I will not serve’. He refused to be beholden to God. He wished to build up his own kingdom wherein he could be god.

This sin of pride is called the original sin. It is the only sin in that all other sins arise from this pride and self-interest which is central to human nature. All other sins flow from it. The readings and the gospel show how things are unchanging, in that those being chastised, especially those in authority who should know better, are committing the same sin all over again. It is the sin of Adam. They are looking for their own glory rather than the glory of God. They seek to monopolise all the glory, refusing to admit that the only real glory is to be found in their relationship to God.  The priests in these readings face the charges that they:

Do not listen.   Do not glorify God’s name.

They are told that they have:

Strayed from the way.  Caused others to stumble

Destroyed the covenant.  Shown partiality.

Broken faith with one another.

These scripture verses condemn:

Hypocrisy.  Religious show and self-exaltation.

They commend:

Obedience to the truth.  Equality.  Humility.