Today’s Gospel is the source for the very familiar saying, “Practice what you preach.”
We hear Jesus admonish the Scribes and Pharisees, as their words and actions are not aligned, and their works are done only “to be seen.” The real issue Jesus addresses is that of integrity. Honesty in living and relating to others means that our whole selves — words and actions, body and soul — are united by hearts turned toward God.
All our lives we grapple with lining up words with deeds. Gradually we discover that our proper “seat” is in the place of the servant, and our true “place of honor” is at God’s table where all are equals. When we have this clearly in our minds, then our words and deeds are not in opposition, but rather witness to the integrity of being followers of Jesus.
Such servant-living will earn the respect of others, not because of a title or the words we speak, but because of the genuine goodness of who we are and what we do. We don’t lay heavy burdens on others; instead, we help them carry their load. We don’t put on symbols of prestige or take places of honor for ourselves; instead, we spend ourselves for the least fortunate, the marginalized. Being a humble servant means we place ourselves at the service of others, recognizing all as our brothers and sisters in Christ.
May this be our Lenten call today and every day.
Deacon Paul Kipfstuhl is the Director of the Diocesan Social Action Office for Wayne, Ashland and Medina Counties for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Cleveland. He is also a Permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Cleveland, assigned to St. Francis Xavier Parish in Medina, OH.
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