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Reflection On Matt. 23. 1-12 By Fr. Isidore Clarke, OP

Reflection On Matt. 23. 1-12 By Fr. Isidore Clarke, OP

Greetings from Fr. Isidore Clarke. Today I'm going to reflect on the Gospel for 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time, (Matt. 23. 1-12).

This makes uncomfortable reading for preachers.Although the Scribes and Pharisees form the immediate target of today's Gospel its criticism is directed to preachers, parents and to all who have the responsibility of telling others how they should behave.

It condemns us if we're more interested in promoting our own glory, rather than God's. It condemns us if we do not live up to the standards we set for others.There's then a massive contradictionbetween what we say and how we live. People can see through our hypocrisy and are likely to follow the bad example we set, rather than the good we may advocate. Or they may despise and reject our words and go their own way. We, who should be leading the way, can become a stumbling block, a scandal.

It's a humbling and wholesome thing that such fear can make us realize that, if we take it seriously, preaching, teaching and parenting are bound to be very daunting tasks. In such cases our challenge, our problem, is that we are doing far, far more than passing on information, as when someone teaches geography or operating a computer.Our task is to hand on Christ's way of life, which we believe in.And yet we are only too aware that we fall short of the standards we set for others.

That sense of inadequacy can be paralysing.I've known preachers become trembling bags of nerves before preaching their well-prepared sermons.They feel physically sick.Even after preaching for 50 years I'm still very nervous.Even St. Paul feared that while preaching to others he should become a castaway, (1 Cor. 9. 27).And many a parent feels daunted by the awesome task of bringing up a child.

So how do we cope?I adopt two techniques.Firstly, I remind myself that I am preaching Christ's way of life, not my own.I'm presenting Him as the standard to be followed, not me.So, whenever I'm preaching I'm firstly talking to myself, reminding myself of how I should live.As I do so, I share my reflections with you.

Next, I remind myself that if no one dared to preach before he lived the Gospel perfectly the Good News would never be heard. Jesus knows He has chosen people who are flawed sinners to hand on His way of life.Who else was there to choose? Who else was there that was willing? That should keep us humble in our preaching!We must overcome our sense of inadequacy and get on with the job He has entrusted to us. At the same time, with God's help, we must make a greater effort to remove the inconsistencies in our lives and the bad example we give.

Finally, and most importantly, the Spirit of Truth not only helps us in sharing our faith. He also helps those to whom we speak, firstly that they may understand what we are saying and then, most importantly, that we may all act upon it.He can touch their minds and hearts in wonderfully unexpected ways.It's a great mistake to think we can do God's work without His help.A prayerful approach to preaching and teaching expresses our deepest conviction that God must be involved at every stage in our living and sharing His saving truth.

Today's Gospel has a message for those hearing people who fail to practise what they preach. You will have heard of scandals in the Church, which must be condemned.But don't let them put you off from following the Good News of Jesus Christ, whom the preacher should proclaim.Jesus is the model we must follow. A particular preacher's way of life is only a useful model as to how anyone should behave, in so far as he is faithful to Christ.When he is not, cling onto the good that he advocates, while rejecting his bad example.

God bless you!

World Day of The Poor