“The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat.” This is a metaphor, in next Sunday’s Gospel, for the teaching and ruling authority of Jewish leaders, but some actual “seats” have been found in remains of early synagogues. I got to see one when I visited Chorazin in Israel. Various priest members of our study tour group sat in it and pretended to teach! We Catholics have the “Chair of St. Peter,” a feast day with an interesting history, and the amazing sculptural masterpiece the “altar of the chair” in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome! The main focus of this Gospel, therefore, is the effort in Matthew’s early Christian community to form its religious leaders to truly be people of integrity. Matthew explains that this means being a humble servant and acting in a way that recognizes that “all authority comes from God.” Leaders are not to be hypocrites — saying one thing but doing another — common in Matthew’s day. Perhaps we are tempted to think about our priests and bishops of today! But really, many people who leave the church do so because they are scandalized by us nonordained people. We have authority, too. There are lots of ways of having authority — as parents, as experts in something, as leaders of groups, as people of influence over others in some way. Whatever authority we have, we are invited to look at how we use it. We teach and rule by the way we serve and live, humbly and with love.
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia