Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent
(Isaiah 1:10.16-20; Matthew 23:1-12)
After Jorge Bergoglio was elected Pope Francis, a woman who worked with him was interviewed. She showed great admiration for the man she called, “Padre Jorge.” The interviewer tried to correct the apparent misnomer saying something like, “You mean ‘Cardinal Jorge.’” She responded that she had tried to call him that, but he told her to call him just “Padre Jorge.” Obviously, Pope Francis has taken to heart today’s gospel.
But Jesus says in the gospel, “’Call no one on earth your father.’” He means that Christians should be wary of titles of honor. They inflate the ego so that some think of themselves as more deserving of special treatment from the common person. Jesus is especially critical of the Pharisees who seem to go out of their way to be paid homage. Could he have in mind as well that humans are not to use the title “father” for their male parent so that it would be reserved for God alone? That is doubtful.
The gospel today is linked to an Old Testament reading reminding us to repent of our sins. Taken together, the Scriptures tell us to remove from self-consideration any haughty pride which can grow on us like moss on trees. Rather than seeking to be named with titles like “Doctor” or “Mister,” we might introduce ourselves simply by our given names. Much more importantly, however, we are to give ourselves in humble service for the good of others.