Isaiah 1:10,16-20; Matthew 23:1-12
It shall not be so among you
“I always practice what I preach” claimed a parish priest! “What I preach on Sunday, I practice for a while on Saturday, so that the diction and delivery are good!”
In reality there is a dearth of good preachers, admittedly because it demands practicing! So, today many priests take the easy way out, by not preaching. This happens particularly when the audience is educated and can easily perceive the divide between life and words! Or, preaching short homilies, some times as short as 5 minutes, has become a virtue! And the preacher avoids what is unpalatable to the audience or what he himself is not keen on practicing! “At least I don’t preach, I am not a hypocrite,” is the justification. But, to say with Paul, “woe to me if I do not preach the Word of God.” There is no alternative to both an authentic living and effective preaching. Neither can be given up by those who are charged to preach God’s word!
There is a universal addiction for appreciation, praise and lime-light in everyone. Politicians hook for it shamelessly by direct publicity. The clergy do it discretely. Even when they appear humble, the desire is there, hidden. Later they complain, “I did so much good; no one even said a word of gratitude.” We seem to humble ourselves only so that we may be exalted later! Humility is admittedly the toughest virtue.
A priest was once introduced as “Very Reverend Father so and so”, and he was pleased. But then he was struck hard when he read today’s Gospel passage! During the homily, he said: “Friends, I already find it hard to be a good human being; to be a Father is harder; to be a Reverend Father is a tall call; and to be Very reverend is impossible. Have mercy on me, and don’t use these titles for me!” In some Church circles priests have started signing their names as ‘Servant so and so’. Is it not time to get rid of medieval titles and symbols of honour for those who are called to be the servants of all?