Tuesday 2 March 2021

The heights of humility


Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.

MATTHEW 23: 1-6, 12


When I was younger, I loved learning new words, and if I found an unusual word in a book I was reading, and couldn’t work out its meaning from its use, then I’d explore what it meant, and then try and use it in other contexts! Some words I took particular delight in and still remember learning – words such as as ‘ebullient’ and, a word from today’s reading, ‘obsequiously.’

Having or being in power isn’t at all a sin. Having influence, and being able to make decisions isn’t wrong. In fact, it’s a great privilege and a heavy responsibility, and we all have varying degrees of such responsibility. We don’t all get to lead countries or companies, but the decisions we make do have an influence on others. What matters is how we use whatever power or influence we have.

The Pharisees of the reading today loved to be greeted obsequiously in the market place. One can imagine the sickening scene of passers by grovelling at their feet, sucking up to them – perhaps out of fear or maybe to increase their own fragile status. Jesus warns against misusing what power and position we may have at the expense of others. We may be able to stand tall by standing on the shoulders of others but it is through humility and love that God will really raise us high.


God our Father, help us to use the power and position we have to bring your goodness to the world and always to improve the lives of others. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

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