Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying,
"The Scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people's shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.'
As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.'
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called 'Master';
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
In today's Gospel we hear about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the Scribes and their empty practices that were not done in love, but rather motivated by vanity and pride. In a world that seems to reward the proud, Christ's message is one of hope. Those who humble themselves are not forgotten. Rather, they will be the ones who are truly conformed to Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Pride and vanity, can be tremendous burdens to carry, and sometimes we even actively seek these burdens due to our fallen nature. But the good news is that Christ has come to free us from the things that weigh us down and show us the way to happiness. Jesus instructs us not to follow the vain and empty examples of the Pharisees, and for this we should be thankful. Jesus implores us to turn away from the slavery and emptiness of pride in our own lives, so that we might find hope in the resurrected Christ who has shown us the way to freedom and everlasting life.
Today, look for the opportunities in your life to not be a hypocrite, but rather live an authentic witness to the Gospel and joyfully humble yourself like Christ. In doing so, you too may be free to embrace your identity as a child of God.