Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted

Seems like every time today’s Gospel appears, I’m on a Catholic website educating myself as to why we refer to our priests as Father.  It is from the 23rd Chapter of Matthew.

Jesus spoke to his disciples:
“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.”

Before I went to the web, I first read the footnotes for these verses (8-12)…

* [23:812] These verses, warning against the use of various titles, are addressed to the disciples alone. While only the title ‘Rabbi’ has been said to be used in addressing the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:7), the implication is that Father and ‘Master’ also were. The prohibition of these titles to the disciples suggests that their use was present in Matthew’s church. The Matthean Jesus forbids not only the titles but the spirit of superiority and pride that is shown by their acceptance. Whoever exalts…will be exalted: cf. Lk 14:11.

Still wanting more clarification, I went and found this article on the web…

Why are Priests called Father?  by Fr. William Saunders

The more I study this topic, the more I understand that we are not disobeying the teaching of Jesus to his disciples when addressing our priests as father.  We must be careful using this term.  If a priest were to abuse his vocation as “spiritual father”, if a priest were to abuse his privileges as our pastor, the shepherd who guides his flock, then we must no longer call that man father.  The most obvious example I can think of are the priests who used their position to abuse children and those who tried to cover up those sins no longer deserve the title, the honor of being called father.

Today in the Church, we had two set of readings, one for the cycle we are currently in and the other was the optional readings celebrating the Memorial of St. Augustine.  Read closely the words spoken by Christ to the scribes and pharisee’s from our regular cycle of readings…

Jesus said,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous,
but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You build the tombs of the prophets
and adorn the memorials of the righteous,
and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,
we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’
Thus you bear witness against yourselves
that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets;
now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”

As Jesus said many times – those with ears ought to hear.  We must all heed Christ’s words because they are the TRUTH.  As much as I am still angered, scared, embarrassed, sorrowful for the priests who abused their title of Father, I too must heed Christ’s words to His disciples because I too am called father.  I cannot live a life that appears to holy and just on the outside, but in the quiet recesses of my home, I do not live as a Christian man.  Whether I’m at my house, in my car or at my office, I must think and act and live like a man of God.  All my being, all my actions, everything I do must be an example to my spouse , my children and to all who see me that God is the provider, that Jesus is the way, the Truth and the Life, that the Holy Spirit guides my every thought.  It is my responsibility to live a life that brings that Truth to my spouse and my children, it is my responsibility to evangelize to all who meet me by the way I live my life.  I do not want to be the hypocrite Jesus refers to in the Gospel but I want to  live my life as one who lives to praise God unceasingly…

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly,
that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us,
you received it not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God,
which is now at work in you who believe.

Do something great for our Lord today – live your life in the Truth, live your life praising our loving God.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

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