Isaiah 1:10-16-20; Ps 50 to the upright I will show the saving power of God; Matthew 23:1-12
"come now, let us set things right, says the LORD."
These are the words of the prophet Isaiah in today's first reading. Simply put, Isaiah reminds us that it is never to late to right a wrong. Too often I encounter people who muse that perhaps it is too late for them; perhaps that missed the opportunity to put their life together.
Isaiah tells us this is false thinking. God's patience is directed to each of us and all of us. It is never too late. To think it is too late is to give in to the whispering of the devil and to not think highly enough about God's love for us. As St. Paul tells us else where in scripture, Now is the time of salvation. Each moment is ripe with the invitation to change and move forward to follow where Jesus leads. Do not delay. It is never too late.
We turn to the gospel and we encounter Jesus giving it to the scribes and pharisees for the sake of instruction of his disciples.
"therefore do and observe all things whatever the scribes and pharisees tell you, but do not follow their example."
Why should you listen to them? Because they sit on the chair of Moses, as Jesus tells us in today's gospel.!
Interesting reality that chair of Moses.
The chair of moses was Moses' teaching authority-authority inherited by the legitimate teachers of Israel. The particular place in synagogue where the leaders would sit was known metaphorically as the 'chair of Moses' symbolizing the succession of teachers of Torah from Moses down through the ages. It was considered the teaching authority of the synagogue. IT was held by the principal Rabbi of particular city synagogue, principal Rabbi of a region, on the universal level it was held by the High Priest in Jerusalem.
This is not unlike the Chair of Peter which was instituted by Christ to Peter himself Mt 16:18 as a line of succession of authority (what you loose on earth shall be loose in heaven, what you bound on earth shall be bound in heaven."
None the less, a part from the above side bar, Jesus give a hard critique to the scribes and pharisees, not so much by what they say but how they carry themselves. He continues with the following, "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 market places…"
It seems they were attention seekers. They would widen their phylacteries, which are leather boxes which contain parchment of scriptures (ex 13:1-10, 11-16 Deut 6:4-9, 13-21) to remind them of God's saving power., in order to show off their piety and devotion. Yet they seemed to focus clearly on their status rather than on God's status.
They were attention getters instead of attention givers. Jesus simply reminds us that their is good attention. Good attention is when we give it rather than seek it. This is the call to service and being a servant of others.
Then he call non one on earth your father, you have but one Father in heaven. This phrase has caused quite a stir in the protestant circles. They get all excited when catholic priest are called father and they quote this particular passage. What are we to make of this?
Jesus is teaching about false piety and pride. He wants us to truly understand humility and service, being for others and not for ourselves.
Now for calling no one father obvious Jesus doesn't mean it literally. In Matt 15:4 he tells us to "honor your mother and father." In Mark 9:17-29 jesus rebukes the unclean spirit of a child immediately after again the "father" states I believe help my unbelief."
In mark 10:6-9 Jesus quotes scripture once again stating a man shall leave his mother and father and be united to his wife…
St. Paul in philemon 10 states "i appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment. St. PAul identifies himself as father.
in 1 corinthians 4:14-15, again St. Paul states, "for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel."
St. Paul recognize Abraham as "the father of faith."
Here are just a few scripture references to shed more light on the text.
Priest being called 'father' recognizes their mission to represent the fatherhood of God in and through the call of Christ. The priest stands in person Christe, and as Jesus states clearly, "he who's sees me sees the Father." Just so the priest represents that reality as well as he faithful lives out his calling. It also recognizes their spiritual role as guide for the faithful and non faithful alike.
How many of us call our natural dad's father. Priest represent us in the supernatural life.
Just a few musings.