Theme: TO BE HUMBLE AND NOT TO BE PROUD
Ecclesiasticus / Sirach 3:17-20. 28-29; Psalm 67:4-7. 10-11. R. v. 11
Hebrews 12:18-19. 22-24; Luke 14:1. 7-14
1. Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings today tell us to be humble and not to be proud.
The gospel tells us that Jesus was invited to a meal in the house of one of the leading
Pharisees and he noticed that the guests were taking the places of honor. Jesus told them a parable telling them not to take the places of honor but to take the lowest places.
Finally, Jesus said to them, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 14:11)
Jesus was not teaching them about social humility, but Jesus was teaching them about spiritual humility! The parable tells us that Jesus himself is the host inviting us to his messianic banquet (“wedding feast”)! The proud and self-righteous Pharisees who think they can be saved by keeping the Law will be humbled! But the humble, who acknowledge their sins and put their faith in God will be exalted! (R H Fuller / Bernard J Lefrois)
This teaching is even clearer from a parallel text in the same gospel of Luke where Jesus told them another parable:
“Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like everyone else, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.’ The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said,
‘God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ This man, I tell you, went home again justified; the other did not. For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.” (Lk 18:10-14)
Humility is the greatest virtue and pride is the greatest sin! The Devil fell from heaven because of pride! (1 Tm 3:6; Is 14:12-15 / CG-DB / NBD) Adam and Eve fell from Paradise because of pride! The Pharisees fell also because of pride! But the tax collector was justified because of humility, that is, he acknowledged his sins and more and most importantly, he depended on God and not on himself for his salvation!
The important difference between the Pharisee and the tax collector was not that one was holy and the other was a sinner, but that one was proud and the other was humble!
The Pharisee was not saved by his holiness, but the tax collector was saved by his humility!
“When St Augustine was asked which was the most necessary of all the virtues he is
supposed to have said, ‘Humility’. What was the second? ‘Humility’. And the third?
‘Humility’.” (Emeric Lawrence)
2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that God favors the humble, but the proud has no cure for his disease! Thus we read in the first reading: “The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favor with the Lord; for great though the power of the Lord is, he accepts the homage of the humble. There is no cure for the proud man’s malady, since an evil growth has taken root in him.”! (Si 3:18-20. 28) God saves the humble, but the proud cannot save himself!
3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading and thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “In your goodness, O God, you prepared a home for the poor.”! (Ps 67:11)
The poor are not only the materially poor and spiritually poor, but the poor are those who are totally dependent on God both materially and spiritually! “How blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”! (Mt 5:3) The poor are the humble who depend on God both for their material and spiritual sustenance!
The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving hymn. (NJB) It is on the Exodus and the
conquest of Canaan. The responsorial psalm has 3 stanzas. The first verse of the first stanza is an expression of confidence that God will destroy Israel’s enemies (Egyptians).
The second verse of the first stanza and the second stanza is a call to praise God as Savior. The third stanza is on the settlement in Canaan. (CSB) The last verse of the third stanza is the response of the responsorial psalm: “In your goodness, O God, you prepared a home for the poor.”! (Ps 67:11)
4. Finally, the second reading tells us about the old and new covenants! The old covenant was made through Moses at Mount Sinai for the Jews! It is based on the Law! The new covenant was made through Jesus at Mount Zion (heaven / CG-DB) for the poor and humble! It is based on the gospel, that is, the good news of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness! Only the poor and the humble can accept the new covenant and be saved!
5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, to help us to be humble, so that we will acknowledge our sinfulness and helplessness, and so that we will depend on God for our salvation! Amen!