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31 SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

31st Sunday of the Year – A                                                                                                        

 

Dear friends in Christ,

 

             The teaching of Jesus in today’s Gospel sparked by the opposition of the scribes and the Pharisees to him. The scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses’ chair, meaning, they had the authority to teach. They taught the Law of God. However, they added an extra burden of rules and regulations and a wrong religious attitude or mindset toward God and neighbor, thus, turning the Law into legalism, omitting the spirit of the Law as covenant between God and his Chosen People.

The easiest way to misunderstand Jesus’ teaching in today’s Gospel is to see it simply as a set of commands like: Christians should not use the titles rabbi, teacher or father, or sit in the front seats in church, or at the head table at banquets. If we read the Gospel this way, we will surely miss the whole point of Jesus’ teaching. Indeed, when he says, “Do not be called Rabbi,” and “Call no one on earth your father,” he obviously means that we should not allow ourselves or anybody else to take the place of God. Or because our heavenly Father is God, then God’s will must come even before the desires of our own parents. 

Discipleship means more than just observing a set of rules, rather, it is listening to Jesus’ word, reflecting and acting on it. A true disciple must be a thinker – someone like Mary who pondered on Jesus’ word and fulfilled the Father’s will. The danger for those who see Christianity simply as a set of rules is that they will think and act just like the Pharisees and Scribes whom Jesus called hypocrites.

Last Wednesday the Church celebrated the Feast of All Saints who won the prize of eternal life. Certainly, they are now in the glory of heaven not simply because during their lives on earth they faithfully kept all of God’s Commandments, but rather because they faithfully followed Jesus, the Lamb of God.  

 

Fr. Joe