Practice What You Preach

How many parents or teachers haven’t had the experience of seeing their behavior played back to them by children or youth? Last Sunday, my mother was preparing to leave her grand-niece’s home when she simply froze on the top step of the front porch. Ethan, her great-grand nephew who is four, recognized her struggle. He went up the steps and stood with her. “Place your right foot on the next step; Good, now place your left foot next to your right foot. Good! Now, let’s do that again” And he got my mother down the steps! So it is, we know how his mother taught him to use the steps!

This experience of seeing our behavior played back is so true when it comes to language, mannerisms, habits, preferences and prejudices. Sometimes it is young people’s imitation of adult behavior that confronts the adults with the truth about who they are and brings about in them a desire for change.

In our Gospel today, Jesus talks to the crowds and disciples about the failure of the scribes and Pharisees to live up to their preaching. Jesus’ teaching hits home because his own life witnessed so completely to what he preached; he not only taught us to reach out to the poor, but he himself reached out to the marginalized; he not only preached forgiveness, but he himself forgave; he taught love as the greatest commandment, and then loved sinners, children, Gentiles lepers.

Practicing what we preach as Jesus did is not easy. Our Gospel mis saying that we must always keep our eyes on God , doing works out of love for God and others and act with the integrity of Jesus. Our works must reveal that we are disciples of Jesus, the servant of others, recognizing all as our sisters and brothers in Christ.