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31 Sunday in


Ordinary Time
Mal. 1:14-2:10
Cycle A I Thes. 2: 7-13 5 November 2017
Mt. 23: 1-12
Our readings for this
Sunday are tough for
everyone but especially
tough for those in
positions of leadership
in the Church.

After 52 years as a priest

and 34 as a bishop, the
words we hear from the
Prophet Malachi and the
Lord Jesus are deeply
challenging and unnerving.
One or two General Comments:

One, it is a distinctive mark

of Israelite Religion that its
great figures were especially
sensitive to the ways that
religion becomes bad.

As sinners, everything human

beings get involved with becomes
bad, whether it be politics, arts,
or science, even including
Corruptio optimi pessima!

When religion which should be the

best in life becomes bad, it really
gets bad.
Hebrew prophets and Jesus
regularly railed against
corrupt religious leaders in
their times and place.
Nothing quite like it!
In other religious traditions,
most of these spokespersons
would rather cover up the
corruption of their religious
Two, though their language
are very harsh, it should
never be taken as a
dismissal of religion

None of the prophets, including

Jesus, in spite of their harsh
criticism, stood against the priestly
sacrifice or temple worship and
therefore are not to be considered as
some kind of French revolutionaries
or modern rationalists or skeptics.
Two, though their language
are very harsh, it should
never be taken as a
dismissal of religion

The Prophet Malachi is the last

prophet of the Old Testament (440
BC) who prophesied after the
return of the Israelites from
Babylon when the Temple and
worship was being restored and
he spoke against the
corruption of the Clergy.
It haunts me that throughout the span
of my Priesthood from 1965, there was a
great exodus of priests due to crisis of
identity of the Priesthood from vocation
to profession with its consequent
materialism, followed by sexual scandal
of minors by priests and now the easy
access to pornography through media
and the e-mail.
2 Listen now to Malachi:
"I will send a curse
upon you and of
your blessing I will
make a course."

2 "You have turned aside from the way and
have caused many to falter by your
instruction; you have made void the
Covenant of Levi."

Levi is the tribe from whom

Aaron the High Priest came and
made his priestly vows and,
therefore, every Catholic
priest is a spiritual
descendant of Levi.
3 Jesus in the Gospel targets not the
priests but the "scribes and Pharisees."
Scribes are not priests but Temple
officials who interpret the Torah.

Pharisees are special sect within

Judaism who strove to lead every
Jew to a life of exceptional purity.
Jesus recognizes their legitimacy:
"The scribes and Pharisees
have succeeded Moses as
teacher; therefore, do
everything and observe
everything they tell you. But
do not follow their example."
"They bind up heavy
load, hard to carry, to
lay on other men's
shoulder, while they
themselves will not lift a
finger to budge them."
3 Note that Jesus is not complaining
about the heavy load per se. In the
Sermon on the Mount in Mathew
5-7 he even intensifies it.
Jesus is complaining
about the unwillingness of
the Pharisees to help the
people to carry the burden
they place upon them;
their lack of love.
As Card. George told his seminarians:

"Never just drop the

truth on people and
then walk away."
This is the style being recommended to us
by the Magisterium and surely of
John Paul II and Pope Francis.

Convey the Truth but in love.

The Pharisees use their Priesthood
as a way of aggrandizing their ego.
"They widen their phylacteries and
wear huge tassels" to show how
religious they were.
Note that Jesus does not recommend
that we get rid of them. What he is
against is that they use these to draw
attention to their own ego.
3 Note the future Pope Angelo Roncalli's
meditation when he was given the bishop's
episcopal vestments:

"May the splendor of these

garments always reminds
me of the splendor of the
souls I am called to serve."
Pope John XXIII
CONCLUSION: Let us keep in
mind the words of
Malachi and of Our
Lord Jesus and ask
ourselves how we
inhabit our tasks
as Spiritual
Are we bringing people to Leaders.
Christ or are we making them
to falter? +ART