They Do Not Practice What They Preach
Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10 and Matthew 23:1-12:
Today’s readings invite us to reflect on the nature and authenticity of our worship and leadership in the service of God. The prophet Malachi, in the first reading, challenges the priests of his time regarding the importance of offering God our best and not succumbing to mere ritualistic gestures. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus directs a strong message to both the crowds and his disciples, cautioning against hypocrisy and underscoring the true essence of humility in leadership.
In the Book of Malachi, the Lord speaks through the prophet, expressing disappointment with the priests who have become lax in their duties. God demands genuine reverence and honour, desiring a worship that is not just about going through rituals but involves offering the best of ourselves to God. This is applicable today: do we approach God with our whole hearts, or are we merely going through the rituals? Are we offering God our best, or do we reserve our best for other pursuits?
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus confronts the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his time. While acknowledging their authority, he condemns their lack of authentic living. The image of the scribes and Pharisees sitting on the seat of Moses calls us to reflect on the responsibility that comes with leadership. How do we exercise authority in our own lives? Are our actions and words genuine, or do we wear masks of piety while harbouring selfish motives?
The call to humility in leadership is profound in Jesus’ teachings. He exhorts his disciples to avoid titles and honours that elevate themselves above others. We live in an age of titles, and we may feel slighted if not addressed with due honours. Jesus emphasises the virtue of true greatness in serving others, challenging us in a world that often values power, prestige, and recognition. How can we, as shepherds for Christ and followers of Christ, embrace humility in our lives? Can we find joy in serving others without seeking acknowledgment or reward?
Friends, let us remember that worship is not a mere routine, and leadership is not about self-elevation. Let us approach God with sincerity, offering the best of ourselves. In our roles as leaders, whether within our families, communities, or workplaces, let us emulate the humility of Christ, finding greatness in serving others.
Today’s readings are timeless, calling us to a deeper, more authentic relationship with God and with one another. May we be inspired to examine our hearts, purify our intentions, and live out the Gospel in a way that truly honours God and serves our brothers and sisters.
May the grace of God guide us on this journey of faith, and may our worship be a source of joy and our leadership a reflection of Christ’s humble service. Amen.
Fr. James Anyaegbu