Humble Service for Greatness

Matthew 23: 1-12
Isa 1:10, 16-20 / Ps 50

The greatest among you must be your servant.
(Matthew 23:11)

When we start feeling like a king
That’s the time when we will stumble
Into our lives what God may bring
Let’s just thank Him and be humble.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23: 1-12)


In today’s Gospel, Jesus told His disciples to obey the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, but not to do what they did, “for they do not practice what they preach.” By transforming the Ten Commandments into more than 500 rules and regulations, they had put heavy burdens on men’s shoulders. Their faith was superficial, only for show, putting importance on the external rather than what is in the heart. Instead of looking after the spiritual needs of the people, they maneuvered to get places of honor in banquets and assemblies, and sought important titles, like ‘rabbi’, ‘father’, or ‘teacher.’ Our Lord denounced them for their hypocrisy and extolled those who serve as the greatest of all.

It has been noted that in many religious organizations, status can clash with service. There is a need to check ourselves that our ministry is not merely status seeking. We can become so engrossed in our responsibilities that without being aware of it, the feeling of being indispensable in our service or community can set in. Christ never suggested that leadership in His Church entails privilege. On the contrary, He had always emphasized carrying our cross to follow Him. “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Mt. 7:14)

Even in our quest for spiritual growth, our sense of piety or righteousness may cause us to stumble, especially when we start comparing ourselves to others. It is always prudent to remember that self-importance never puts anyone in good stead. This is the precious lesson that our Lord is imparting to us in today’s Gospel. The more important our tasks and our goals, the more we must strive to assume the role of a servant or slave. As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, “Let each of you humbly consider the others as more important than yourselves” (2:3). Jesus tells us to be like little children if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven. The ‘little ones’ go about without any hypocrisy or boastfulness, and they are completely dependent on their parents for all their needs.

May we never grow smug in the knowledge that we lead others in our ministry, Lord, because ‘pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall’ (Prov.16:18); help us to grow in Your example of humility in service to be worthy of You. Amen.

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