Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent: to be Christians with Integrity, and Humility
Readings: Is 1:10, 16-20; Ps 49; Mt 23:1-12
“They preach but do not practise” [Mt 23:3] says Our Lord in today’s Gospel, describing the Pharisees. These words send a shiver down the spine as they remind us of the times in which we fall short of Christ’s teaching, which we proclaim to the world. But the sentiment is perhaps especially applicable to Bishops, Priests and Deacons who exercise both authority in the Church, and a teaching ministry. As St. Thomas Aquinas says in his commentary on this Gospel passage, “a prelate is given a position of authority so that he may teach not only by his doctrine, but also by his life”. If our lives do not reflect the values we preach, we lack integrity. If we lack integrity, we lose credibility. If we lose credibility, people will not listen to us. So it is only when we practice what we preach that we become effective communicators of the Gospel. I once heard Gil Bailie, a thoughtful American scholar, put it this way: “The ultimate success of every effort to Christianise the world will be commensurate with the personal sanctity of those making the effort.” The way to avoid the example of the Pharisees is to have the integrity to put into practice that which we profess.