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Practice with the Master
Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in Heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, you invite me into this time of prayer. Help me to quiet my mind and heart and recall that I am in your presence, that you dwell within me. I believe in you, I hope in you, and I love you. Increase my faith, and let me know you better. Increase my trust, that I may surrender myself to you in love.
- Preaching by Practicing: How many times in the Gospels did we find Jesus calling the Pharisees to conversion? He called out their hypocrisy and found himself exasperated at their hardness of heart. Still, Jesus recognized their authority as servants of the law he himself had given to Moses. It was their manner of living it out that separated them from the God they were called to serve. They lived inauthentically. Let us allow the Lord to look into our souls to root out any pharisaical tendencies there may be hidden within us.
- To Be Seen: The Pharisees performed their works to be seen by man. We know that to be seen, to be looked upon and known, to be recognized, is a human need. How many orphans, homeless persons, or sick or marginalized persons speak of the greatest suffering, perhaps, as being unseen by others—not experiencing the gaze of another upon them, the reflection of recognition in the eyes of the other that you exist, and this is good. Jesus reminds us, however, that it is enough that the Father sees what we do. Doing things for human respect does not please Our Lord. So that we may be purified, let us turn within and realize we are under the gaze of our Father who sees everything that is hidden (Matthew 6:4).
- Master and Servant: Jesus is Master, and he teaches us to serve. Let us not seek to be called master, father, or teacher, but may it be enough that the Jesus who calls us to follow him, and who reveals his Father to us, is our Master, Teacher, and Father. The Catechism (CCC 786) reminds us that all Christians share in Christ’s kingly office precisely by sharing in his call to serve: “For the Christian, ‘to reign is to serve him,’ particularly when serving ‘the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder.’”
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you have come to give us life, and how humbly you do so. You are so patient with my tendency to want to judge, measure, and be recognized and seen. Teach me by your example. May it be enough that you look upon me and see me. Teach me to live in the light of your gaze.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace in my examination of conscience I will examine, with you, my purity of intention.
For Further Reflection: You may wish to read further in the Catechism on our sharing in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king, as baptized Christians.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families and young people she’s there to serve.