Matthew 23:1-12 (NRSV)
Chapter 23Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, Verse 2"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; Verse 3therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. Verse 4They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. Verse 5They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. Verse 6They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, Verse 7and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. Verse 8But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. Verse 9And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father-the one in heaven. Verse 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. Verse 11The greatest among you will be your servant. Verse 12All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Have you ever been around someone who is trying to be a “show off”? In today’s gospel reading Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for their seeming to be “showing off,” drawing attention to themselves as religious leaders, teachers, and observers of the Law. Jesus is reacting with resistance to the countless rules and regulations that the scribes and Pharisees actively proclaim which, in turn, become intolerable burdens upon those who attempt to follow them. Jesus offers another way to direct their lives when he suggests that in lives of humble service they follow the one Father, the one instructor and example—the Messiah! Jesus proclaims that they should begin to practice lifting up each other, reaching out to help each other, and serving beside each other. The resulting activities add up to a multitude of situations when you can be a positive “show off” together with others around you.
Empowering God, you have called us to nurture relationships where we live, work, and play. Help us to “show off” in the ways we humbly support, serve, and share your abundant presence with people wherever we live! In God’s Spirit, we say: “Amen.”