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Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

My dear encountered couples:

Though I hesitate to bring this up, it is a well-known fact that not all priests are loved by their parishioners. And sometimes it is not because the parishioner is overly critical. There are times when those among us – myself, included – are not exactly living and walking replicas of Jesus Christ. One day we preach to you the words of Jesus; the next we might be found not living them.

“Practice what you preach,” we are always being reminded. And we certainly should. But when we don’t, for whatever reason that may be, it is not to lessen the import of what it is we preach. When the preaching and teachings of any priest are faithful to the spirit of the preaching and teachings of Christ, the listeners are to do what he says, not look for an excuse to exempt themselves because of what they see him do. Jesus makes that obvious in his words today.

“The scribes and the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers,” he told the people. “Therefore, do everything and observe everything they tell you. But do not follow their example. Their words are bold but their deeds are few. They bind up heavy loads, hard to carry, to lay on other men’s shoulders, while they themselves will not lift a finger to budge them.” And then Jesus goes on to give some examples of what the religious leaders of the time did that God did not approve of.

So, what can I say – except – when you see us or hear about any of us priests not living up to our preaching, don’t let that stop you from doing what you know in your heart is right. That’s what Jesus told the Jewish people, and I pass his words on to you. Practice the teachings of Christ that we preach, but don’t necessarily live them in the way you might find us imperfect men doing. Pray for us.

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