Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time


In the Gospel for the Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time, Jesus seems to be condemning a superficial faith that focuses only on the externals. He says: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ chair: therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do for they do not practice what they teach…They do all their deeds to be seen by others”.

Jesus is calling for a deeper faith that is rooted in humble service to others. “The greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Just as Jesus chastises the scribes and Pharisees in the Gospel, the prophet Malachi offers similar words to the priests of Israel in the First Reading, “You have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi”.

We hear a great deal today about “servant leadership.” It is all about humility and integrity and can be summed up in a quote from the ordination rite of a priest. The bishop says to the candidate, “Meditate on the law of God, believe what you read, teach what you believe and put into practice what you teach.”

All of us who are called to serve others should take to heart the words of Jesus and Malachi, especially those who are called to be bishops, priests and deacons. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”