Jesus denounces the Pharisees in the Temple for their pride and attention seeking. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Gift of Counsel from the Holy Spirit so he can remain ever obedient to Christ’s holy priesthood and by growing in the Virtue of Humility so he can reject pride and more fully submit to God’s Will. 

Liturgy

2nd Week of Lent – Tuesday – Mt 23:1-12

Commentary

After tolerating, but crushing, the repeated attacks by the Sadducees, Pharisees and scribes, Jesus enters the Temple and publicly warns that they are dangerous and should not be followed. He begins by reasserting the importance of authority, pointing to the chair of Moses as the current authoritative teaching; in the New Covenant, Jesus, the Son of God and Divine King, is the exclusive authority and He grants authority to rule for Him on earth by establishing the Chair of Peter (the papacy) to lead His Holy Catholic Church.

Jesus denounces the Jewish religious leadership with several criticisms: they put excessive religious burdens on the faithful; they do not practice what they preach; they practice conspicuous piety; they pridefully seek attention and honor. Jesus tells His disciples to avoid the Jewish leadership’s core sin of pride and to embrace humility: “Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Mt 23:10-12).”

Some people falsely use Jesus’ “call no man father” to argue against Jesus’ exclusive selection of men for the Catholic priesthood and the tradition of addressing priests as “father.” Jesus uses hyperbole (exaggeration) to denounce the hypocritical Pharisee’s prideful quest for honorific titles; Jesus certainly doesn’t intend for children not to call their own biological father, “father”, or to not call a religious teacher, “rabbi”. The Apostles understood Jesus’ words, “call no man father”, as hyperbole; they used “father” as a title for spiritual fatherhood (Peter, John and Paul all did this in the Epistles) and eventually the title, “father”, became routinely used for priests.

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Today’s brutal enforcement of new “speech codes” to excuse sin and to censor and punish men who speak the truth is nothing new; Jesus faced the same. Be inspired by how Jesus Christ, with His powerful Voice and penetrating Gaze, heroically demonstrates the virtue of physical and mental Courage (a part of Fortitude) by Harshly Condemning the sinful behaviors of the Jewish religious leaders, right to their faces, despite their attempts to censor Him and His full knowledge of their plans to trap and murder Him.

Remain ever obedient to the priesthood

Realize: Just as Jesus condemned the sins of the Jewish leadership but urged His disciples to remain obedient, Jesus abhors the heresy and the horrific sins of some in His priesthood; nevertheless, Christ commands every Catholic man to remain obedient to the holy priesthood He established. 

Believe: Reflect upon the Sacrament of Holy Orders (CCC 1536-1600).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Counsel so You protect me against evil and heresy and You lead me to follow and remain obedient to the many holy and heroic Catholic priests Jesus continues to bless.

Reject pride and humbly submit to God’s Will

Realize: While the modern culture rewards those who pridefully draw attention to themselves, often because of outrageous and perverted acts, Jesus condemns the vice of Pride by the Pharisees because it is evil and leads men to sin against God and others; the Church has always warned men that pride is one of The 7 Deadly Sins and the root of all other sins.

Believe: Reflect upon the Virtue of Humility (CCC 299, 1450, 2219, 2540, 2546, 2554, 2559, 2631, 2713, 2753, 2779).

Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Humility (a part of Temperance) so I recognize my smallness, respect and listen to others and more completely surrender my will to Your Holy Will.