This Sunday’s gospel is one of those “controversial” ones as far as Catholics and our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ are concerned. In it, Jesus said, “As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven…”
As Catholics, we believe that Jesus is speaking figuratively in order to show that all authority comes from God. Just before these quotes, Jesus is admonishing the Pharisees for doing a number of things in order to elevate themselves in the eyes of others. He is telling them that all glory and honor belongs to God, not to them. He concludes the passage by telling them to humble themselves, for “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Throughout the Bible, men are called fathers and teachers. In Acts 7:2 and 22:1, St. Stephen and Paul calls the Jewish religious leaders, “fathers.” In 1 Corinthians 4:14-15, St. Paul calls the Corinthians, “My beloved children…for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” St. Paul had become their spiritual father. Catholics call their priests “father” because they are spiritual fathers in tending to God’s flock, the Church.
I look forward to hearing our parish priest’s homily tomorrow, in order to glean still more from this gospel passage. Have a blessed Sunday!