THIRTY FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A
5th November 2023
Malachi 1:14-2:2,8-10; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9,13; Matthew 23:1-12.
Today’s gospel passage addresses the hypocrisy in the priestly ministry. According to the gospel, the scribes and the pharisees occupy the chair of Moses; they do not practice what they preach and all they do is done to attract attention. The challenges of the roman catholic priesthood are real, but the hypocrisy of not practicing what is preached is not without cause. Exercising the priestly ministry in a world of decline in religious faith due to modernity imposes the challenge of “to serve or to control”. Jesus insisted in the gospel that “the greatest among you must be your servant”. Jesus expects witnessing through service and not damage control.
The world as we know it today is disillusioned from anything religious. It is a world that is desperately yearning for true witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our world is heading to self-destruction and only faithful ministers of the gospel, willing to render selfless service can make impact. In the second reading St. Paul reminded the Thessalonians: Like a mother feeding and looking after her own children, we felt so devoted and protective towards you, and had come to love you so much, that we were eager to hand over to you not only the Good News but our whole lives as well.
We cannot propagate the faith through damage control. Damage control is a sign of one overcome by the disillusionment of the world. Exercising the priestly ministry to please the people of God and attracting attention through identity politics is damage control. Damage control will turn priests into comedians and motivational speakers rather than faithful ministers and true witnesses to the gospel. What will save the faith is true witnessing by selfless service. Openness to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through prayer will open the door to creativity in exercising the ministry.
Fr Anthony Ekpunobi, CM.