SUNDAY, THIRTY FIRST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Mal 1:14–2:2,8-10; Ps 131; 1 Th 2: 7-9,13; Mt 23: 1-12
ONE FATHER, ONE TEACHER
The three great monotheistic religions, all proclaim ONE God as Creator of all things and Father of all humans. However, there is a great difference between their proclamation of monotheism and their practical attitude towards humanity. These religions themselves are constantly warring with one another. Since the days that Cain murdered Abel, the fatherhood of God has been separated from the brotherhood of man. The children of Abraham were specially chosen to be the nucleus of a new brotherhood which the prophets tried to keep together.
Today’s first reading tells of the attempts of Malachi: “…you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction… You have shown partiality in your instruction. Have we not all one Father?” In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to call no one our Father on earth!
Let us try to understand what that means. Should we not honour our parents? Should we not pay them due respect and gratitude? Social realities have their own worth, value and acceptability, inside and outside the Church. The dad of Saint Francis of Assisi, took Francis to court for squandering his wealth on the poor. Francis stripped himself of everything, claiming that henceforth he could say more truly and more literally: “Our Father, in heaven.”
As a logical consequence of having one Father, Jesus adds: “and you are all brothers and sisters.” What is the implication for caste and class? For fraternity and equality? All become citizens of the world. Each is at home everywhere. Every land is your mother-land, though every tongue may not be your mother-tongue. Unity and peace must prevail, and prevail universally: the brotherhood of man under the universal Fatherhood of God. A beautiful vision of a new humanity is proclaimed in the Good News of today.
It is up to you to reach out for this ideal, first, in your thoughts and your convictions; then, in your words and the sharing and teaching of your convictions, in your family circles, in your clubs and social circles. You will need the courage of an apostle and of a prophet. You will need a team of willing cooperators who will gear the whole educational system towards the achievement of this ideal. Do not allow this ideal to slip out of your mind. Saints and missionaries like Joseph Vaz and Mother Teresa of Kolkata have toiled for it incessantly, down the Christian centuries. A great deal still remains to be done.
Jesus himself is our pre-eminent teacher, educator and master. “You have ONE instructor, the Christ.” It is he who through his Holy Spirit, moved his apostles, prophets, martyrs. Saints keep on relentlessly working for the creation of a new humanity under the fatherhood of God. Jesus is the only teacher because he is himself the truth. Every atom of truth found anywhere else, comes ultimately from the Spirit of Truth who is the Supreme Being. The implication is that whatever there is of truth in whatever religion or philosophy, or science, or teaching, is ultimately from Christ.
Jesus is a teacher not only of theoretical and speculative truth, but also of practical truth, particularly regarding the construction of a new humanity. The chief obstacle to our efforts for the realization of brotherhood, unity and equality is our ambition and pride. That is why our teacher tells us. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:29). Ambition and pride are the causes of immeasurable restlessness at the national as well as the international levels. The political parties jolted by ambition are concerned more about the party than about the nation. Although our nation declares: “Satyameva jayate” (truth alone triumphs), an undue self-centredness makes our leaders slip away from the truth. This slipping and sliding away from truth is the greatest weakness of truth and the greatest enemy of universal brotherhood.
Response: Keep my soul in peace at your side, O Lord.
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