31st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jesus demands that we have integrity — that we practice what we preach, and that we integrate our Christian morality with every choice we make.

  • To the point: After so many prior confrontations, Jesus himself now directly takes on the scribes and Pharisees by pointing to a problem in the community: “they preach but they do not practice.” Jesus clearly teaches that who we are is defined by how we are with God and one another. We are to be learners of the one true Master, all children of the “one Father in heaven,” humble servants of Christ and each other. How we are reveals most truly who we are.
  • Connecting the Gospel: (Matthew 23: 1-12) to the first reading: Malachi reinforces this teaching of Jesus: we must practice what we preach. We must never be the cause of others turning away from our one God and Father.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We all struggle to align what we do with what we say, especially when we are in some position of authority (parents, teachers, civic leaders). At stake is not only our own integrity but also the well-being of those for whom we are role models.

Centering prayers

The Gospel

(Matthew 23: 1-12)

Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Christ Jesus, let us share the Gospel,
and ourselves too,
with the ones we serve.
Let us be gentle with them.
And fill us with mercy,
so much mercy.
If tassels, fine clothes,
and terms of respect
can help us to serve others warmly,
then put these all over us.
But since humility must
undergird all service,
let our real place of honor
be the very first place you call us to.
O God, kindly fill us with your kindness.

The First Reading

(Malachi 1: 14b- 2: 2b, 8-10)

Have we not all the one father? Has not the one God created us?

Did God create us all?
Do we have one and the same father,
Muslims, Buddhists, Jews,
Christians and everyone?
God, Father of us all,
your children ask of you:
bring us together in mind and heart.
teach us to love as brothers and sisters,
as family whose caring shows itself in deeds,
whatever differences we may have.

The Second Reading

(1 Thessalonians 2: 7b- 9, 13)

With such affection for you, we were determined
to share with you not only the gospel of God,
but our very selves as well.

Everything gets better with love.
Let love be the non-stop flight
taking your Word directly
to places where it can
happily work, filling us with affection
for those we serve.

Copyright © 2023, Anne M. Osdieck

Music for reflection