A great King am I, says the LORD of hosts,
and my name will be feared among the nations.
And now, O priests, this commandment is for you:
If you do not listen,
if you do not lay it to heart,
to give glory to my name, says the LORD of hosts,
I will send a curse upon you
and of your blessing I will make a curse.
You have turned aside from the way,
and have caused many to falter by your instruction;
you have made void the covenant of Levi,
says the LORD of hosts.
I, therefore, have made you contemptible
and base before all the people,
since you do not keep my ways,
but show partiality in your decisions.
Have we not all the one father?
Has not the one God created us?
Why then do we break faith with one another,
violating the covenant of our fathers?
Brothers and sisters:
We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children.
With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you
not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well,
so dearly beloved had you become to us.
You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery.
Working night and day in order not to burden any of you,
we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly,
that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us,
you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God,
which is now at work in you who believe.
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
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 marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
In today’s Gospel, the Lord tears down an image of religious authority based on merely human power, status, and empty titles. He replaces it with a new understanding of the Church as a family whose Father is God.
Through Baptism, we are all siblings. Yes, there are roles in the family of the Church, just like in our natural families. And as in any other family, through human weakness, there will be rivalries. But the Lord makes clear that no one should stand over and above his brothers and sisters in a spirit of domination. No one should try to set up his or her own personal kingdom within the Church. As the First Reading reminds us, God alone is King, and the Glory is His.
The “greatest” in the family of the Church—and we should all pursue this kind of greatness—are called to be humble, roll up their sleeves, and serve wherever God has placed them or is calling them.
For some, this will mean discerning a call to the Priesthood or Religious Life. For any man considering the Priesthood or any woman discerning the Consecrated Life, the First and Second Readings provide an excellent meditation on the requisite humility, gentleness, and patience.
Whatever our place in the family of God, let us strive to imitate Our Lord, who became a humble servant for our sake and in perfect obedience to the Father’s will.
Please be assured of my prayers before Our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
+ Bishop Schlert