Reflections on the Gospels

In the Gospel of the Thirty-First Sunday, Jesus warns the crowds and his disciples about the scribes and the Pharisees.

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. They preach  but they do not practice…All of their works are performed to be seen.  Mt 23:1-2

Some years ago, my pastor and I were invited to dinner by two families from our parish.  I was dressed in a pair of slacks, shirt and tie and a blue blazer.  The pastor was dressed in blacks. He asked me if that was how I was going and I said yes.

We arrived at the country club to meet the two couples who were going to be our hosts.  Both of the women complimented me on how nice I looked.  When we were seated at the table, the pastor took what looked to me like the head of the table.

When the waiters came, they addressed the pastor first, then the two women and then the husbands and myself.  That established the pecking order for the whole meal.  I was sitting with the two women talking about cooking and various subjects and having a wonderful time.

When they brought our diners, they followed the sane pecking order. One of the wives leaned over and said, “Now I get you.” The other wife chimed in that she agreed. I said, “What is there about me that you need to get?”  She continued, “You don’t like all of that attention.” I smiled and agreed with both of them and for the rest of the evening any tension at our end of the table was gone.”

I agree with Christ. I am not saying that the Pastor was like the scribes and Pharisees, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with clerical attire.  I was a new priest and had hardly done enough to receive such attention nor did I want it.  Christ calls us to be servants!

If we go back to the time of Christ, Christ sets the dress code for us as servants on Holy Thursday night as he strips off his outer garments and wraps a towel around himself and serves the apostles by washing their feet.

In a crowd, he serves the women suffering from hemorrhaging by simply being there and allowing her to touch him as he realizes that power has gone out from him and her faith drew that charge.

If we lived in that time would we have been able to recognize Christ by the clothes he wore?  He looked like every other male in the crowd.  The woman recognized him by the history she knew of Christ’s works and trusted in the strength of her faith.

Be seen not for the way you look, but for the compassion and mercy you exude.  Be known for the Christ in you no matter how you look.

In Jesus through Mary,
Father Denis Ryan, C.Ss.R.
Redemptorist Missionary of the Denver Province

Fr. Ryan is a Redemptorists priest assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in Seattle.