Homily (Reflection) for the Thirty-First Sunday of the Year (A) (05th November, 2017) on the Gospel

Mal 1:14–2:2.8-10;
Ps 130 (R. V.);
1Thess 2:7-9.13;
Matt 23:1-12.

Love in humble action is had in a story about a monk who was dispatched from one monastery to the other as abbot. When the unknown abbot quietly arrived at his new destination unannounced, the holy monks checked out his humble person and unimpressive demeanor. They immediately sent him to work in their kitchen at the most menial tasks. Uncomplaining, their new abbot spent long hours scouring pots, washing floors, and shelling beans.
Finally, the bishop of the diocese arrived at the monastery. When he could not find the long overdue abbot, he went on a search. Of course, he found him in the kitchen, preparing that night’s supper. When he officially presented him to the monks in their chapel, they received a lesson in humility which would last them a lifetime.[1]
Topic: Be cautious.
Jesus urged His listeners to do and to follow what the scribes and the Pharisees taught because they occupied Moses’ seat. However, they should not follow their example because they did not practice what they taught.
They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi (Matt 23:5-7).
The sacred office the scribes and the Pharisees occupied meant nothing to them. Hence, Jesus often calls them hypocrites, cf. Matt 15:7; 23:13, 15, 23,25,27,29.
Each of us also occupies sacred office. I do not refer to few in the religious life. However, these offices/our positions in life mean little or nothing to many. Hence many hustle for other ones they consider higher. Some mothers do not consider themselves fully mothers because they have not been termed ‘Life members,’ Mothers of this or that, Ezinnes, and many more even when there is nothing to justify any. Fathers and youths are not different. Even those in the religious life are not fulfilled because they have not been made pastors, monsignori, bishops, superiors, mother generals, and so on. All these are geared towards either real or imagined honour and very far from the obligations.
Jesus concludes, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” We remember Jesus’ admonition on where to sit when invited to a feast, cf. Lk 14:7-11. Imagine the shame if after of loosing these positions.
True honour comes after labour. The abbot in our introductory story is just an allusion of what will come at the end of our labours here on earth.
Bible Reading: 1Pt 5:1-11; Matt. 6:1-18. 7:12; Lk 14:7-11; 1Cor 10:23 – 11:1.
Thought for today: An anonymous author wrote: “Man punishes the action, but God the intention”. You can deceive everybody in the world but you can never deceive God. What you do might be wonderful to all eyes but God’s.
Let us pray: Lord, help us to realise how sacred our positions are and also give us the graces necessary to fulfil their demands – Amen.
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[1] Fuller, G. (2010). Stories for all seasons. Mumbai: St Pauls, p. 50.

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