Once again Jesus is in the Temple precincts. A dangerous place to be, for it is of course frequented by many of his enemies, the scribes, and Pharisees. However, this time Jesus addresses “the people and his disciples”[1] warning them against the fact that the latter do not “practice what they preach.”  Jesus is not condemning their teaching as such but the additions they make. They are entitled to read and interpret the Mosaic Law as they “occupy the chair of Moses”.[2] They however flout the Law and lay “heavy burdens[3] on the people and “will they lift a finger to move them? Not they![4]


Jesus accuses the teachers of the Law as doing everything to attract attention.[5] The phylacteries were to glorify God, not oneself.[6] We may sometimes like to be noticed and wear our broad phylacteries and fringes long to draw attention to ourselves, to be noticed! We sometimes like “to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call” us with an important title.  Everyone likes to be noticed. We seem to think that being noticed gives us more self-worth.[7] Of course, this is not true. We are loved by God unconditionally. We do not need to stand out in the crowd. It is the heart that matters.


Jesus also instructs us that we have only one Father in heaven, and one Teacher, Himself,[8] the Son of the Father and the necessity for humility, for “anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.” So, leave outer ostentation and inner pride and let God the Father through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, exalt you.


Sr. Rosaleen Shaw OP



[1] Mt. 23:1

[2] Mt. 23:1-2

[3] Mt. 23:4

[4] Mt. 23:5

[5] Mt. 23:5

[6] Bonsirven 1964:61

[7] cf. The New Interpreters Bible, Vol. VIII, p.432

[8] Mt. 23:10


Loading Conversation