Grace to you!
As an introduction to today’s reflection, may I invite you to tune in to The Catholic Channel of the Archdiocese of New York on SirirusXM 129 today (Saturday) from 7:00am to 8:00am and 6:00pm to 7:00pm ET. I was a guest for a one-hour long prerecorded interview on Sister Marie Pappas’ show, Pathways of Learning. It was an engaging spiritual dialogue you may find enriching for your spiritual life and how to inspire the younger generation to know and love the Lord.
Talking about how to inspire others, especially teens and young adults, I remember a hardworking mom, who knew how to do just that. Her son started off in high school, scoring all As. But as days rolled by, he began to ignore his studies, believing he would pass anyway. It wasn’t long before he hardly made a B on his mid term.
The mom saw this coming and had been persuading the boy to get serious with his academics, to no avail. Fortunately, she had a brilliant idea. She invited her son over and showed him her grades while she was in high school.
There was silence in the room, for the mom had perfect scores all through. She had said all she wanted and she felt the impact on the boy was far more than all her nagging.
Sure enough, years later, after an admission into one of the Ivy League schools, the young man thanked the mom for showing him her grades. “That spoke more to me than all the theory about commitment to my studies,” he said.
Action, they say, speaks louder (and clearer) than voice. The best teacher, the best mom or dad, the best religious leader, is the one who lives what he or she stands for, what the person teaches. A sincere effort to live what we preach, despite human weakness, is a sure sign of integrity.
Speaking about the religious leaders of the time, Jesus said to the crowds and his disciples: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice (Mt 23:1-3).
Strong words, aren’t they? Here the Lord makes a distinction between a “teaching office” and the morality of the teacher; and, in like manner, distinguishes adherence to the truth taught from following the lifestyle of the teacher. Often, we tend to fuse the lifestyle of the teacher with what is being taught. This is risky and spiritually dangerous.
This doesn’t give the religious leader or teacher the license to live in such a way as to disregard what he represents. Saint Paul warned against such when he addressed a number of questions to those with the authority to teach and preach: “You then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’ ” (Rom 2:21–24).
As a priest, these words speak directly to me. Do I practice what I preach? Or do I downplay one aspect or another of the gospel simply because it makes me uncomfortable or challenges my way of life?
I pray that God will give us the grace to follow the Lord and walk in his footsteps even when it’s not convenient or popular. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[148 Saturday Week 20 Ordinary Time A: Ru 2:1-3, 8-11; 4:13-17; Mt 23:1-12]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.