Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time



"The greatest among you must be your servant"

Over the past few weeks we have followed disputes between Jesus and the Pharisees reported by Matthew. Now Jesus turns on them in condemnation: respect their position of authority, he says, but do not accept them as models of behaviour - "since they do not practice what they preach". They interpret the law with a severity that overburdens people. Then, in their own lives, everything they do is done to attract attention to themselves. Such hypocrisy must be avoided.

If winning human approval becomes the driving force of our lives, then we have lost our way. If God has his rightful place in our lives, there certainly will be times when we must choose the less popular road. Living the gospel to the full is no shortcut to popularity or public approval. The values of the gospel challenge the way in which our society is structured, and to live by those values in the context of contemporary society suggests self-denial before popular acclaim.

In Jesus we have the perfect model. He does not lay heavy burdens "on people's shoulders", but rather gives of himself in their service. Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the Reign of God's love in our lives through his generous outreach, especially to the marginalised, and his loving service of all who came to him. He would have us witness to him in like manner.