the pride before the fall
“The scribes and the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers; therefore, do everything and observe everything they tell you. But do not follow their example.” —Matthew 23:2-3
The scribes copied the Sacred Scriptures by hand. This indicates that in their time they were among the most intelligent and best educated people in the world. They were professionals and experts in the Holy Bible.
The Pharisees believed in angels and in the resurrection of the just. They had the most advanced theology in history up to that time. Jesus Himself recognized that they and the scribes were the rightful, authoritative successors of “Moses as teachers” (Mt 23:2-3).
Despite the greatness of the scribes and the Pharisees, most of them rejected Jesus, the Messiah, and thus prepared the way for their own downfall. Their problem was pride. They exalted themselves, so God humbled them (Mt 23:12). They were “fond of places of honor at banquets and the front seats in synagogues, of marks of respect in public” (Mt 23:6-7). They were show-offs, mere people-pleasers, and pleasure-seekers.
Therefore, “be humbled in the sight of the Lord” (Jas 4:10). Learn from Jesus, Who is “gentle and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29). “In your relations with one another, clothe yourselves with humility, because God ‘is stern with the arrogant but to the humble He shows kindness.’ Bow humbly under God’s mighty hand” (1 Pt 5:5-6). Humble yourself (Mt 23:12; Lk 14:11; 18:14).
Prayer: Jesus, You humbled Yourself even to death on the cross (Phil 2:8). Teach me humility.
Promise: “I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east.” —Ez 43:2
Praise: St. Bernard helped establish the now-famous monastery at Clairvaux, France. Clairvaux means “Valley of Light.” This is fitting since Bernard is remembered for his clear and insightful teaching.
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