Faith Daily | 7 March 2023
PRAYER of the DAY - APBA p484
Remember, O Lord,
what you have wrought in us
and not what we deserve,
and, as you have called us to your service,
make us worthy of our calling;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 23: 1-12
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; 3therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 5They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. 6They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, 7and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. 8But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. 9And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Rachel McFadyen
Phylacteries and fringes were the prayer shawls used by devout Jews when going to prayers, a bit perhaps like the hats and gloves women used to wear to go to church, a visible sign of devotion. It is interesting that Jesus says “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat” – in other words, they know the scriptures and have the authority that comes from that. So listen to what they say, but don’t follow their example. The burdens were of course the burdens of trying to keep all the laws, and the shame of knowing that you and your family were the poor, the “unwashed”, with a disgraced daughter somewhere and a wastrel son somewhere else – burdens that you couldn’t do anything about.
Jesus goes on to say that his followers are to have no rank among themselves, no leader or teacher other than him, Jesus. By implication, the church he is establishing, with Simon Peter as its base rock, is not to have any glorious individuals with titles setting them above the others, nor glorious garments that identify some people as higher and more worthy of respect than others.
How far we and all the churches have moved from Jesus’ words! Every 3 years, as this passage in Matthew is read in church, I always wonder how people can say this, and immediately go on to address the priest as “Father”. Cognitive dissonance – believing in two contradictory ideas at the same time. Right now, people in this Diocese are being asked to suggest possible people for our next Archbishop. Let us pray for someone of real humility as well as ability, someone who is able to be the servant of the church, and to point always to Jesus the Christ as the centre of all our worship.
FINAL PRAYER Psalm 19:12-14
“Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”