The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

22 Sunday in Ordinary Time – C (August 29 – 2010)

Sirach 3:17-18,20,28-29; Psalm 68:4-7,10-11; Hebrews 12:18-19,22-24a; St.Luke 14:1,7-14

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the Sabbath, they were watching him closely. When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable.
"When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, 'Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.
But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

I will dare to say that today’s readings are insulting and offending our culture and our common sense. Even more …

à when we read seriously the first reading and the Gospel we can see that these readings which claim to be the Word of God are totally ridiculing our school systems, our formation and education and the network of our social relations.

The whole of our contemporary world, to totality of our culture is centered on “I”. The economy, the market, the leisure, the technology, the entertainment industry, the fashion, the whole of our culture … everything is focused on me, on my exceptionality, on my self-importance, my vanity and my selfishness, on my uniqueness. We have the IPhones, IPads, IPods, IMacs … everything seems to be necessary called “I” in order to be sold, to be popular, to be accepted. TV chains are unceasingly bombarding me with commercials assuring strongly and convincingly that I am in the center of the world that my pleasure, my needs, may wishes and caprices are the most important and the most essential. If you can see this whole civilization from a certain angle or point of view, you will agree that the whole of our civilization is built up upon the fundamental principle: pleasure for all and everybody. YOU ARE THE CENTER OF THE WORLD.

And In the middle of this brainwashing formation of my “EGO”, comes the Word of God, in today’s readings openly denying and contradicting this kind of self-indulgent mentality.

In the first reading from the book of Sirach we read: “My child, perform your tasks with humility … The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself.” (Sirach 3.17-18)

Who among us can understand these words? Who among our relatives is able to take these words seriously?

And in the Gospel Jesus is emphasizing even stronger statement: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Who –in our contemporary world, full of arrogance and self-importance- will seriously consider following a teacher who is proposing such a stupid and senseless style of life?

Who -in our proud, pleasure-seeking and self-indulgent contemporary world- will be able to accept such teaching???

We are formed to be the best, the first, the most important, the greatest, the most successful members of the society. And Jesus is proposing us the HUMILITY??? Is He serious? Is He not kidding? He created me for my happiness, for my pleasure … and talking about humility must be a mistake, an error of interpretation, a humbug, a real nonsense!!!


"Pride of life" is as grave a sin as those of the flesh or of avarice. Pride is the beginning and the root of all sins; pride is the original sin of Adam and Eve.

In the Gospel of St. Matthew we have Jesus saying: “In truth I tell you, unless you change and become humble like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.

Pride, lust and avarice; all are classed as forms of concupiscence. St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence:
· lust of the flesh,
· lust of the eyes (greediness or avarice), and
· pride of life or lust of meaning or glory.

The most dangerous and the fundamental is the pride, the lust for meaning and glory. I am the first, I am the most important, I am the center of all and everything, I have the rights, I am in need of this, and that, I I I I I I endlessly repeated I ….
In a book a read a short story of a man telling about his two meetings:

“Recently I met two men whom I had not seen in some time. The first breathlessly exhausted himself and me with the interminable length he spent in talking about himself and his health. He never had the time to even quickly ask me, "How are you?" Given the time his monologue had consumed, I secretly was just as happy, that I had another appointment.

The second told me that he was flattered that I had remembered his name. I told him the college where he used to teach still talks about the numbers of students who chose to take his course. The eager pupils sat on the floor when there were no more desks.
He turned away the praise by telling me how much he had enjoyed some articles I had published.

The second man was hardly in need of today's Gospel. The first decidedly was. More importantly, which one of them is a type for our own selves?

Some years ago I was introduced to Mother Teresa by a friend. She refused to talk about herself. She wanted to know of the work I was involved in for New York's Catholic Charities.

The same modus operandi was followed by Archbishop Helder Camara of Brazil when I met him. The word "I" did not seem to be in their vocabularies. All these people were walking studies in humility. They had learned the lessons of today's Gospel.”

What we can see from this short story?

But how have I learned the lesson of today’s Gospel? I fear I did not. Have you? You must answer that question for yourself.

Glue this prophet's advice on your bathroom mirror. "Knowing God makes us humble. Knowing ourselves keeps us humble."

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