Today’s Thoughts: “Do and observe all things whatever they tell you, but do not follow their example.” (Today’s Gospel Matthew 23: 1-12) I have to admit every time I read this passage in Matthew’s Gospel I think of the deacons, priests, bishops, cardinals and even popes. I think of them as saying one thing and doing another, of laying heavy burdens on others, of always needing places of honor, of always being shown respect but not respecting others. Yes, it is easy to point the finger at others.
However, if I truly stop and think about Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel the first person I must really consider is yours truly, me. I too am part of the Church leadership. I am a priest, a preacher and a Passionist. Do my words and actions reflect Christ? Do I lay heavy burdens on people and then do nothing to help? Do I look for places of honor, special treatment just because of who I am? Do I expect people treat me different? Do I expect to be called “father,” “Rabbi,” or “Master?”
If I am honest at times the answer to some of these questions is, “yes” unfortunately! Yes, I get caught up in my humanness. I want to be special. I want the world to follow my words. I want people to point to me and say good things. I want to get the first place in line or be at the head table.
So, Jesus’ words today are an opportunity for me to pause and reset my priorities. They are an opportunity for me adjust my life. They offer me a chance to plant my feet on the ground again and to value the things that are most important, the things that really matter. They are a reminder of who is most important in my life, God and others.
The Chicago Bears football great Gail Sayers entitled his autobiography, I Am Third, referring to the way he lived his life, Jesus first, others second and himself third. In Jesus’ words today, I am reminded that I will never be perfect in this life and every once in a while, I do need a good kick in the behind so that I take note of why I am a Passionist, a priest and a preacher. Every once in a while, I have to remember God is first and I am third!
Have a great Saturday everyone.
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...