Scripture Reflection, November 5, 2023, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malachi 1:14b--2:2b, 8-10 1 Thessalonians 2:7b9, 13 Matthew 23:1-12
Apparently, even in Jesus’ day there were people who were very concerned about their image … folks who performed good works just to be seen, hogged places of honor and insisted on titles and honorifics. Today those people would hire image consultants!
The image consultant works with the politician or celebrity to create in the public eye an image of their client, a picture of how that client wants to be seen by others. Positive publicity translates into votes for the politician or media contracts for the entertainment celebrity. There is money to be made in the creation of an Image that is attractive to others.
How frightening it must be if one's public face differs significantly from the private reality! How worrisome to have to keep a true self hidden. But for some people the acclaim, adoration and approbation of others is necessary in order to feel loved, to feel worthy.
The antidote today's gospel offers to this soul-sickness is humility. Humility is our honest acceptance of ourselves as blessed but broken, lovely but limited. How much better to believe deeply that we are created and loved by God who knows the truth of us, who knows our imperfections and loves us anyway than to believe that we must be perfect to earn God's love.
There is such a thing as greatness, Jesus tells us in the gospel. But it is not greatness created by public acclaim, power, influence and connections. "The greatest among you must be your servant,” he says. This is how we become truly great, by serving the needs of others, the needs of a suffering world.
As we embark upon choosing leaders for our country in the coming year let us bear this gospel in mind…and value service over image.
by: Pat Schnee