Advanced search Click here for the website of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

Skip Content
 

3 March 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 23.1-12

We might think that organised religion sometimes seems to focus on the wrong things, instead of pointing to the heart of the matter. We are not alone in this view.  Jesus was frustrated and disappointed by what he saw as bad examples of organised religion. The scribes and the Pharisees had a hold over people’s lives, weighing them down with obligations, whilst parading themselves as top notch, so they thought, in the sight both of God and of other people.

Jesus saw it very differently. Everyone is a seeker after God and a learner.  All of us are students – there is only one teacher, the one appointed and anointed by God.

Plenty of people today are genuine seekers after God, but, for one reason or another, are put off by the Church as an institution and what it appears to represent. This is very sad- it is partly our fault for not making Jesus the centre of our living, thinking, goal and rejoicing. If we have encountered Jesus, if we are drawn to him, we are his disciples, which means we are part of the solution. We are the body of Christ, the Church, and we ought to follow, walk, live and know Jesus. And draw others to his love by the quality of our relationships, service and witness to others.

It always begins with being ready to let Jesus serve us, by washing away our sins, just as he washed his disciples’ feet (John 13). But then it goes on – we take up the bowl and the towel and serve others too. This is the best evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit in us, a power strong enough to change the world.

Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 23.1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practise what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.