When I was in Seminary, one of the courses we had to take was a course on Spirituality. The course was designed to help us look at how we lived our inner lives, so that we could be of better service to the People of God. Our Professor for that class had a habit of consistently reminding us that “the clothes do not make the monk”, meaning that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts!
Jesus makes a very similar point in today’s Gospel, when he cautions the people against following the practice of the Pharisees. On the outside, these leaders of the Jewish people appear devout. What quickly becomes apparent, though, is that they do everything for show. They do not practice what they preach, and they do not make an effort to connect with other people, especially those that they see as being “beneath them.” They had little to no compassion for the struggles of ordinary people.
Jesus, on the other hand, presents a different model of leadership: the path of service to others. This is the path that Pope Francis has described as “taking on the smell of the sheep.” To truly be a servant means that we allow the love of God to be at work in our lives, and we do what we can to bring the love of God to others in the unique circumstances of their lives. To do this effectively requires humility, because it requires us to set aside any desire we may have for worldly gain or reward.
Living a life of service also means that we strive to encounter God beyond the four walls of the Church. At the end of Mass, we are sent out to glorify God with our lives, and we do just that when we carry out acts of service in our daily lives. These acts can be directed towards family, friends, coworkers, and even towards strangers that we meet on the street. As we reflected on last week, these acts of love can help us to grow in our love for God as well.
As we draw closer to the Advent and Christmas seasons, one way we can serve those in need is through our giving tree campaign in our Family of Parishes. As we begin the Giving Tree this weekend, I encourage you to participate, and to help bring some joy into the lives of those in need in our community. Remember also that November is the month of All Souls. Supporting those who have lost loved ones is another powerful way that we can be of service. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB