Pray for Priests
3/15/22 Mass Readings Reflection
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 salutations ‘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.” (Matthew 23:1-12)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us about shepherds who have become too prideful and worldly, putting their status above love of God. He tells us that we should respect their office but be wary of the abuse of that office as well as their hypocrisies. This is an important message for all times and in all places.
Although God created His Church on earth, it was left in the care of man, who is sinful. While we rely on our shepherds for guidance, we have only one Father and Master who guides us above all others. Clergy and laity alike follow the same Master and so are brothers, all serving one another, with none held above the other. While our shepherds are called to guide us in the faith, we must remember that they are also human and prone to human frailties and sin. Our eyes must remain steadfastly on God. We are not called to imitate man, but instead to imitate Christ. Our shepherds can teach us how to imitate our Master, but the way in which they personally practice this task can fall short, just as all of humanity falls short in its quest to follow Christ’s example.
For the laity, this is an especially important lesson as we look to our priests for guidance. We should be mindful of their human frailties and be sure to observe what they tell us but not necessarily follow their every example. We should seek out those priests who are pious and humble and who put God above all else. We should be wary of those who are prideful of their status and who put their comforts and interests above the interests of their Master. We should support good shepherds and remember that our eyes should remain on Christ, first and foremost. Perhaps most importantly, we should pray for all priests that they may humbly follow Christ and serve humanity according to God’s will.
Copyright 2022 Jessica Tucker