31st Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year A
The priests of Israel had a hereditary right to support by the rest of the people. Technically they didn't have to do any physical work other than offering sacrifices. Paul makes a point of working to support not only himself but also his co-workers. He was a master tent and sail maker. Such skills would have been in demand anywhere in the Mediterranean world.
PHYLACTERIES AND TASSELS
Jesus criticizes the religious leadership of his nation for arrogance. He singles out their love of religious costume. Among these are phylacteries and tassels.
Phylacteries are amulets in the form of small boxes. Inside were Scripture quotes from Ex 13:1-6 and Dt 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. The boxes were tied to the arm and forehead with long straps for morning prayer. The Pharisees affected extra-large versions.
The tassels were part of the prayer shawls also worn during prayer. The shawls represented the Meeting Tent used from the time of Moses. The tassels symbolized the tent ropes. Jesus wore simple garb.
This week's Mass presents examples of humility. It is one of the most misunderstood virtues. It does not involve an attitude of submission or weakness. It is rather an attitude of willingness to accept help. No one is truly self-sufficient. We all lack some skill or ability, perhaps several. Arrogance is the feeling that we are totally in control and need no outside aid.
The priests and Pharisees wielded tremendous power in their day. They demonstrated this assumed authority in their dress, mannerisms and demand for attention. Paul shows humility in that he wishes not to burden anyone, but to serve. He willingly accepts help from others, but does not demand it.
Do you seek assistance or refuse to ask for it or accept it when proffered? The difference shows your humility or pride.
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