“Are You Leading Others to Me?”

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Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Monday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 23:13-22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’ Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’ You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it.”

Opening Prayer: Prayer of St. Anselm
Teach me to seek you,
And reveal yourself to me as I seek;
For unless you instruct me
I cannot seek you,
And unless you reveal yourself
I cannot find you.
Let me seek you in desiring you;
Let me desire you in seeking you.
Let me find you in loving you;
Let me love you in finding you. 

Encountering Christ:

  1. “Woe to You, Scribes and Pharisees”: Jesus’s words were directed to a very specific audience—those who were called to be leaders of the Jewish faith. He called them hypocrites, which means they seemed to have the virtues, moral, and religious beliefs of someone who witnesses to God, yet their private lives were in direct opposition to what they publicly professed. None of us wish to live our lives this way, especially those in leadership within our families and communities, and in the church. So Christ invites us to look deeply into our hearts to see what might cloud our view or create a divide between our public and private lives. 
  2. Do I Lock Myself Out of the Kingdom?: For anyone striving to love God and bring others to him, these are challenging words from Jesus. They move us to look into our hearts, and see if we are truly seeking the kingdom of heaven and allowing others to experience that kingdom through us. The kingdom Christ preaches is one of love, mercy, goodness, and truth. It is a kingdom where we are free and confident in the grace and love that he pours into us. Do we inadvertently lock that kingdom away? We can ask ourselves: Do I know the King in his goodness, truth, and beauty? Do I take time to enter the kingdom through the humble gateway of prayer, so that I can truly point others toward the kingdom and allow them to see Christ through the way I love and treat others? 
  3. Am I Leading Others to Christ?: Jesus accused the Jewish leaders of going to great lengths to bring their flock to conversion, only to lead them away instead. That could happen in our own lives. It is hard to bring people to experience the kingdom if our own hearts and minds are far from living in the goodness, truth, and beauty of God’s love. Only when we spend time with the King, and allow his person and goodness to penetrate our hearts, is our witness compelling. Many times serving others, we get so busy that we begin to neglect spending time with the One who loves us and unites us to himself. Yet prayer is always the true source of “success” in our lives. 

Conversing with Christ: Lord, help me to search my heart in your loving presence. I know that if you want to show me an area in my life that is blocking my way to you, you will give me the clarity and grace to reopen that path to your kingdom. You long to live with me, and be a part of every area of my life. Your friendship calls me higher. I want to experience your friendship more, so that I can truly bring others to you. 

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take a brief moment to reflect on how I prioritize my relationship with you in my life. 

For Further Reflection: 
“He who goes about to reform the world must begin with himself or he loses his labor” (St. Ignatius of Loyola) 

Lisa Small was consecrated to God within Regnum Christi in 2001, is the Communications Director for the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi in North America, and is the National Formation Director for the Regnum Christi Mission Corps.

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