The Gospel reading from the Mass for Saturday of the 20th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 23:1-12.

After tolerating, but crushing, the repeated attacks by the Sadducees, Pharisees and scribes, Christ publicly (in the Temple!) warns that they are dangerous should not be followed. Christ begins by reasserting the importance of authority, pointing to the chair of Moses as the current authoritative teaching; in the New Covenant, Christ, the Son of God and Divine King is the exclusive authority and establishes the Chair of Peter (the papacy) and His Catholic Church to rule for Him.

Christ denounces the Jewish religious leadership with several criticisms: they put excessive religious burdens on the faithful; they don’t practice what they preach; they practice conscious piety; they pridefully seek attention and honor. Christ tells His disciples to avoid the Jewish leadership’s core sin of pride: “Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Of note: Protestants (and some feminists) often foolishly and falsely use Christ’s “call no man father” to argue against Christ’s exclusive selection of men for the Catholic priesthood and addressing priests as “father.” Christ uses hyperbole (e.g. exaggeration) to denounce the hypocritical Pharisee’s prideful quest for honorific titles; Christ certainly doesn’t intend for children not to call their own biological father, “father” or to not call a religious teacher, “rabbi.” The Apostles understood Christ’s “call no man father” as hyperbole; they used “father” as a title for spiritual fatherhood (Peter, John, Paul all did this) and eventually the title “father” became routinely used for priests.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of Man, the perfection of Virtue, Christ courageously condemns His enemies in their supposed domain, the Temple. Divine King, Christ commands that His followers be obedient, humble and rigorous in the practice of the faith; denouncing the hypocrites to teach one thing and do another, Christ perfectly carries out His teachings, even unto death.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) The culture is unmanly; leaders use weasel words to avoid the truth or to manipulate and many men speak in cowardly “politically correct” words, afraid to say what they really think. Be awed by Christ’s bold and courageous speaking the truth about the blatant sins and corruption of those in power. Commit to always speak the truth with charity.

2) Despite the failures of the Jewish leadership (CCC 574-594), Christ directed His disciples to respect and listen to the Jewish leaders; despite recent scandals, Christ desire for all men to continue to respect and follow Catholic priests. Reflect upon the Indelible Character and the Grace of the Holy Spirit of Holy Orders (CCC 1581-1589) and pray for Christ to help you learn from and help the priests of your parish to evangelize men.

3) Christ condemns the pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  Reflect upon the Virtue of Humility (CCC 299, 1450, 2219, 2540, 2546, 2554, 2559, 2631, 2713, 2753, 2779) and pray for Christ to help you to shed your ego/pride and become a humble servant of Christ in all things.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Virgin Mary

Virtue of the Day – Hope

Corporal Work of Mercy – To bury the dead

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To pray for the living and the dead