Tuesday 15 March 2022: Isaiah 1:10,16-20; Psalm 49(50):8-9,16-17,21,23; Matthew 23:1-12
It is very obvious from Matthews' Gospel that not only were rulers of the early church (Matthew was writing about a Century after Christ) establishing little fiefdoms of their own - but that Matthew recalled Jesus's condemnation of exactly this kind of behaviour. Todays Gospel contains just about the most damning condemnation of the Pharisees and Scribes. Their position in the chair of Moses was a position due the utmost of respect - but their behaviour did not come up to that rightly exulted role.
We must remember that Jesus himself worked very much in the pharisaic tradition - there is a certain academic too-ing and fro-ing in his teaching that reflects the normal practice in his time of 'argument' on points of law. This method is common in academia and in the jewish faith to this day, and results in good understanding as the topic in question has been looked at from multiple viewpoints. So we have seen Jesus say "You have heard how it was said... but I say unto you..." several times. So it was not the faith nor the understanding of the Pharisees that Jesus is condemning here, but the practice of imposing this upon others who - more than likely - had not been trained in that way of life. The result being a people confused by one point then another, pulled this way and that, and made to feel inferior, not closer to one another, and above all, not closer to God. Note also - it was not the Scribes and Pharisees who took Jesus to Pilate asking for crucifixion, but the Sadducees.
We who are Parents - we are teachers - so we need to beware of this. We who are teachers, clergy or managers - we need to beware of this. We who are strong, skilled or inventive - we too need to beware of this. We should not exalt ourselves simply because we know more, can do more, or can explain something better than another - we should use our skills to lift others up towards God.
Or - in one simple phrase: we should practice what we preach.