A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “C” – 8.28.16 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and Goodness to you this day!
Growing up in our families is where we learn the rules to eating together at the dinner table. Some families have a lot of rules. And some families have less rules. But we learn from our parents what the expectations are, if you want to eat with the rest of the family! Basic rules include don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t play with your food, and use your napkin, not your shirt-sleeve. And then, if company is coming, or you’re going out to eat at a nice restaurant, there are more rules: don’t put your elbows on the table, use the silverware from the outside in, and always cut your food up into bite-size pieces. I remember once, when we were having company for dinner, my little brother tried to put an entire spear of asparagus in his mouth without cutting it up. My Mother was mortified. He had asparagus pushing out both sides of his cheeks. It’s good to have rules at table!
When we first hear this Gospel text, it sounds like Jesus is giving us a lesson on etiquette for a dinner party. This is how His followers are supposed to behave. Or actually, as He goes on, it seems even more like Jesus is being a little cynical when He starts telling us how to make ourselves “look good” in front of others. Just act like you think you should sit in the back, knowing full well that you will be invited to move up front, AND look good in front of everybody else at the party! Is Jesus really recommending this false-humility to get ahead? No. Jesus is calling all of us to a real humility.
Jesus is really much more concerned about how we see ourselves. That’s where the heart of our problem lies. Do we feel that we deserve the place of honor? If so, we risk the humiliation of being put in our rightful place, further back in the banquet hall. As human beings, it is so easy for all of us to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with others. This is never a good thing. Either we decide that we’re better than they are, or that they are better than us! Either way, comparing ourselves with other is a mistake. Only God, Who can read the human heart, can make true and wise comparisons.
The words of Sirach in our First Reading today become a wonderful antidote to this human tendency to compare. “Conduct your affairs with humility…What is too sublime for you, seek not, into things beyond your strength, search not.” This is exactly where so many times our pride gets us into big trouble. Now, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t constantly be trying to be better, and to improve ourselves as Catholic Christians. It does mean that we can’t let our pride rule our lives, and make us desire to be better than everybody else! In this life, as followers of Jesus, we need real discernment and prayer to help us to determine what is right for us in the eyes of God. We must be honest with ourselves about our strengths and our weaknesses. And we must know in our heart of hearts that all of our gifts, our abilities, and all of our blessings are from God. The reality is that God calls each of us, every day, to take our rightful place among our brothers and sisters, not placing ourselves above them, but all together as His people, enjoying the differences and gifts and talents of each one!
Today, as we come here to be strengthened for another week of serving our Lord and our neighbor, let us pray for the gifts of wisdom and discernment from the Holy Spirit! Let us pray also that we might be led in the direction that is best for us every day, where we can make the best use of our talents and skills, for the service of our God and the benefit of others. And let us pray also today for the humility we need to know our place in the God’s Kingdom. Then we will be truly humble, not comparing ourselves to others or seeking places of honor, but conducting all our affairs with humility!
+ May God bless us today, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!