HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK OF LENT.
THEME: GOSPEL FOR ALL.
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul.
“…They set heavy burdens on others….”
In the Gospel of today (Matt.23:1-12), Jesus says that the scribes and Pharisees “sat on Moses’ seat” and encourages the people to practise what the preach but never to accept them as models. Moses, of course, was the great lawgiver. Sitting on Moses’ seat means teaching by Moses’ authority—the highest authority available to a teacher of the law.
Jesus says, “therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do.” In spite of their personal failings, these scribes and Pharisees were stewards over a great spiritual treasure, and Jesus wanted his disciples to avail themselves of that treasure. This is in keeping with Jesus’ earlier statement, “Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt 5:17). It is also in keeping with Deuteronomic law, which requires Jews to consult with religious authorities regarding difficult spiritual matters, saying, “you shall do according to the tenor of the sentence which they shall show you” (Deuteronomy 17:10).
So Jesus’ disciples were to honour the honorable office that these men occupied and to do what they taught at least insofar as their teachings accorded with Torah.
The message of the gospel never exclude any particular group of people. It addresses all including those who should be its custodians.
The Scribes and Pharisees were bad examples because they expected more from others than they did of themselves. They set heavy burdens on others, yet they themselves would not move them with one of their fingers. The burden of the religious leaders contrasts sharply to Jesus’ burden. His burden is light, and His yoke is easy (Matthew 11:30). These religious leaders were burden bringers; Jesus was a burden taker.
This accusation against these religious leaders could apply to many religious leaders today. We have continued to put heavy burdens on our congregants. We suck life out of them; turning the church into ‘Akawo-centre’. We build schools and hospitals with their money while denying them and their children access to these facilities. We feed on our members. Religious leaders take undue advantage of the flocks entrusted to them by Christ. Religion shouldn’t bring more human burdens. It should break yokes rather. Jesus wouldn’t sugarcoat His message as religious leaders do today. He is not excusing church leaders but giving a signal for judgement. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God grant the ministers of the Gospel the grace to practice what they preach and adapt to the pattern of Jesus. God bless you and your household always through Christ Our Lord Amen. Good morning.
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