Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

extreme humility

For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

OPENING PRAYER

A Prayer for the Virtue of Humility

Lord Jesus, when You walked the earth,

Your humility obscured Your Kingship.

Your meekness confused the arrogant,

Hindering them from grasping Your purpose,

Your nobleness attending to the destitutes.

Teach me to model after Your eminence,

To subject my human nature to humility.

Grant me with a natural inclination

To never view myself greater than anyone.

Banish all lingering sparks of self-importance

That could elevate me greater than You.

Let my heart always imitate Your humility!

COLLECT

God of might, giver of every good gift,

put into our hearts the love of your name,

so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,

you may nurture in us what is good

and, by your watchful care,

keep safe what you have nurtured.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29

My child, conduct your affairs with humility,

and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.

Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,

and you will find favor with God.

What is too sublime for you, seek not,

into things beyond your strength search not.

The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs,

and an attentive ear is the joy of the wise.

Water quenches a flaming fire,

and alms atone for sins.

APPLICATION

Humility, the virtue recommended to all of us in today’s man of the Old Testament times, is the quotation from Sirach, a wise and saintly basic virtue of a Christian life. It is the one virtue our divine Lord told us to copy from him: “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart.” He had all the other virtues to the highest degree and he did not mean that we should ignore them, but as humility is the foundation on which all the other Christian virtues are built, if we have it, the others will grow from it as the tree comes from the root.

What is humility? It is an honest, truthful estimation of ourselves. Whatever we are or have, we owe to God. We did not bring ourselves into being, God created us. If we have healthy bodies, sound limbs and senses, bright and alert intellects, it was God who gave them to us. If we have used these gifts of God properly and acquired some of this world’s goods and honors, we did so because God gave us the materials with which to work. In other words, everything we are and have is a loan from God, and therefore we cannot boast of it, or grow proud because of it.

Yet the world is full of pride. Pride has been the besetting sin of man from the beginning of time. It is the original sin, the cause of all other sins, and it has been copied by generation after generation down to our own day. Puny, finite man came to realize that he had gifts which raised him above all the other beings that inhabited the earth. Instead of using his gift of reasoning he abused it by claiming these gifts as his own, shutting his eyes to the fact, which was evident, that he could not have given these gifts to himself. He not only forgot his Creator, but he turned against him, and refused to admit that the Creator had any claims on his gratitude or obedience.

This was the beginning, very early in man’s history on earth, of human opposition to God and disobedience to the wise laws of God which should regulate life on earth. It was consequently the beginning of man’s opposition to his fellowman and the cause of the wars, the strife between individuals and between races and nations, which have been the blot and disgrace of the history of man on this planet.

As the proverb says : “There is no use crying over spilt milk.” It will help in no way to waste time lamenting over the havoc that pride has caused down through the ages. What we must do is try to eradicate this human vice by cultivating its opposite virtue, humility. Each one must begin with himself. “What have I.” St. Paul reminds me, “that I have not received, and if I have received it why glory in it as if it were my own?” All I am and have are from God. Once I realize this and keep it in my mind, I will resist any temptation to look down on my neighbor or lord it over him, if he happens to have less gifts from God than I.

If I am physically or mentally stronger than my neighbor, and if I have acquired more of the goods of this world because of these extra gifts, I must give the credit to God and not to myself. I must by ready to share my surplus with those who received lesser gifts from the Creator. If I happen to be a citizen of a nation which has exploited successfully its greater natural wealth and consequently has a higher standard of education and living, I must not despise other nations or races who are less fortunate in the portion of this earth which falls to their lot. Rather, if I realize and admit that everything, both I and my nation have, is from God. I must be willing and ready to help in every possible way to alleviate the material and spiritual deprivations of those less fortunate neighbors of mine who are children of the same human family of God.

Thank God that this spirit of true humility, the realization of God’s dominion over all the gifts which he has given to mankind, is spreading today more than ever before among the peoples of this earth. We Christians should be in the vanguard in this movement of true fraternity and charity. We will be, if we give the virtue of true humility the place it should have in our lives, the place of honor among our Christian virtues.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

The just rejoice and exult before God;

they are glad and rejoice.

Sing to God, chant praise to his name;

whose name is the LORD.

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

The father of orphans and the defender of widows

is God in his holy dwelling.

God gives a home to the forsaken;

he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

A bountiful rain you showered down, O God, upon your inheritance;

you restored the land when it languished;

your flock settled in it;

in your goodness, O God, you provided it for the needy.

God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

READING II

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Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a

Brothers and sisters:

You have not approached that which could be touched

and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness

and storm and a trumpet blast

and a voice speaking words such that those who heard

begged that no message be further addressed to them.

No, you have approached Mount Zion

and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,

and countless angels in festal gathering,

and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,

and God the judge of all,

and the spirits of the just made perfect,

and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,

and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.1 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul–a destiny which can be different for some and for others.2

CCC 2188 In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church’s holy days as legal holidays. They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society. If a country’s legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share in this “festal gathering,” this “assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.”3

1 Cf. 2 Tim 1:9-10.

2 Cf. Lk 16:22; 23:43; Mt 16:26; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23.

3 Heb 12:22-23.

APPLICATION

The reason why the Church has selected these verses for our reading today is the same reason that the author of this Epistle had when he wrote them. He wanted to impress on the Jewish converts the superiority of the Christian religion over that of the Old Testament, which they had practiced until their conversion. We, too, must never forget that our Christian religion is based on love, on the infinite love of God for mankind.

The Jews served God out of fear. They did not and could not know him as we know him. He gave them a partial revelation of himself through his dealings with them, and through the prophets and sacred writers. However, to us he has given the fullness of revelation through his divine Son who lived amongst us. The Incarnation is an act of divine love which no finite, human mind can ever fully understand in this life. That the Son of God could so humiliate himself as to take our created human nature, empty himself of his divinity, of the glory which was his as God, and live amongst us as one of ourselves, is a mystery of love which surpasses human understanding.

Add to that the extra humiliations which we sinful men, whom he had come to raise up to sonship of the Father, heaped upon him during his stay on earth. He was accused by his opponents of being a liar, a deceiver, of being in league with the devil, of being an enemy of the people, of being a blasphemer who claimed to be God. On this last accusation they had him put to the ignominious death of the cross. His very friends, the Apostles and disciples who admired his teaching and believed in his miracles, were little better. One of them sold him to his enemies for thirty pieces of silver. The others deserted him when he was arrested. Peter denied that he ever knew him. While he hung in agony on the cross, John alone, with the blessed Mother and a few women, was near him. The others stood far off lest they should endanger their lives by associating themselves with him.

Yet all this did not prevent the Son of God from fulfilling the mission that the Father gave him. Through perfect obedience in his human nature, he reconciled disobedient mankind with God; and through sharing in our human nature, he gave us a share in the divinity.

While we cannot in this life fully appreciate the mystery of the divine love which went to such lengths in order to raise us up to the height of sonship with God, we can and do understand enough of this mystery to make us try to love him in return. We are now adopted sons of God. We have heaven as our eternal home. What does God ask of us in return? What must we do to get possession of that inheritance? Nothing very difficult. Nothing beyond our human powers, aided by the means of grace that Christ made available to us in his Church. We need not leave the world and enclose ourselves within the walls of a monastery. A few do that, but it is only for the few. We can and must live our ordinary earthly lives, using the goods of this earth which God has put here for our use. We can enjoy the normal pleasures of life. We can and must take an interest in the welfare of our families, our cities and our states.

While our Christian lives are to all external appearances very ordinary, they are extra-ordinary and special in this: they are lived within the commandments of God and the regulations and teaching of Christ’s Church. This is not something too much to expect of us, if we are true followers of Christ. Millions have done this before us and attained to Christian perfection. We can do it too, and with God’s help we will do it, and thus reach the “city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” where “Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant” will be waiting to welcome us.

GOSPEL

PalmSunday-01

Lk 14:1, 7-14

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine

at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,

and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited,

noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.

When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,

do not recline at table in the place of honor.

A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,

and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,

Give your place to this man,’

and then you would proceed with embarrassment

to take the lowest place.

Rather, when you are invited,

go and take the lowest place

so that when the host comes to you he may say,

My friend, move up to a higher position.’

Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.

For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,

but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Then he said to the host who invited him,

When you hold a lunch or a dinner,

do not invite your friends or your brothers

or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,

in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.

Rather, when you hold a banquet,

invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;

blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.

For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082816.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”,1 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”,2 than for the ordinary People of God.3 To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;4 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.5 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,6 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),7 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.8

CCC 588 Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves.9 Against those among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others”, Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”10 He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.11

1 Lk 2:34.

2 Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19.

3 Jn 7:48-49.

4 Cf Lk 13:31.

5 Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.

6 Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39.

7 Cf. Mt 6:18.

8 Cf. Mk 12:28-34.

9 Cf. Lk 5:30; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1.

10 Lk 18:9; 5:32; cf. Jn 7:49; 9:34.

11 Cf. Jn 8:33-36; 9:40-41.

APPLICATION

This parable was intended in the first instance for the Pharisees but it was preserved in the inspired Gospel because it has a lesson for all men. A proud Christian, that is, a proud follower of the humble Christ, is a contradiction in terms. Christ, the Son of God, lowered himself to our level when he took our human nature. He was born in a stable, reared in the obscure village of Nazareth; earned his meager meals as a country carpenter; died on a cross as a malefactor with two thieves as companions; was buried in a stranger’s grave. Could he have done more to induce us to listen to his counsel when he said: “Learn of me, for I am humble of heart?”

Yet, there are Christians who are proud. Like the Pharisees of old, they thank God that they are not like the rest of men. They shun any contact with sinners. They cover their ears when any scandal is mentioned. Yet they never miss the gossip, and are always ready to condemn offhand the unfortunate giver of scandal, without knowing the extenuating circumstances.

The authorities placed by Christ over them in the Church do not escape their severe censorship. The normal, humble Christian knows that pastors and individual bishops are not infallible, and that they can make mistakes at times, but to the proud, self-opinionated Christian they are always wrong except when their decisions agree to the letter with his opinions.

Worse still, the proud Christian sets himself up as a critic of God’s wisdom. He muses: God forgives sinners too easily, God doesn’t know them as well as I do. That conversion cannot be trusted, it will not last, he says. The “sinners” prosper, they are blessed with good health, a happy family, more than their share of the world’s goods, and here am I who never failed God, who always did what was right and even more, and I am neglected by God. God doesn’t know his real friends!

These are the questionings of a proud soul. Such Christians raise themselves above their neighbors in their own minds. They choose the first places, and from their self-appointed heights they look down on their fellow guests at God’s banquet. Thank God, there are few whose pride leads them to these extremes, but there are far too many who set themselves up as judges over their neighbor and appoint themselves as the models to be imitated by all others.

There is a little demon of pride in every one of us. There is a natural inclination in each one to esteem himself a little better in most ways, if not in all, than his neighbor. We must keep this demon in check and not let him grow in us. Any gifts of mind or body that we have are from God–our duty is to use them properly and to thank God for the loan of them. If he gave greater gifts to another, I thank God for it. That other was able to make better use of them than I would. I have enough to go on with. I shall not be judged on the use or abuse of gifts which I did not receive.

If I use all the gifts which God gave me, to help my neighbor, the spiritually poor, the lame and blind, to heaven, instead of keeping myself aloof from them as the Pharisees did, then my judgment will be easy, I shall be “repaid in the resurrection of the just.”

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Meaning of a Christian Feast

In a world in which, despite all its progress, injustice and affliction are perhaps more than ever before exercising their fearful reign in many forms: In such a world it must seem like a gesture of contempt when those who are able to do so escape into the happy forgetfulness or expensive pomp of a festive celebration. Well, if celebration means simply a self-satisfied enjoyment of one’s own affluence and security, then there is really no place for that kind of celebration today. But is this really the meaning of celebration? It is certainly not the original meaning of a Christian feast. A Christian feast – the birth of the Lord, for example – means something entirely different. It means that the human person leaves the world of calculation and determinisms in which everyday life snares him, and that he focuses his being on the primal source of his existence. It means that for the moment he is freed from the stern logic of the struggle for existence and looks beyond his own narrow world to the totality of things. It means that he allows himself to be comforted, allows his conscience to be moved by the love he finds in the God who has become a child, and that in doing so he becomes freer, richer, purer. If we were to try celebrating in this fashion, would not a sigh of relief pass across the world? Would such a feast not bring hope to the oppressed and be a clarion call to the forgetful folk who are aware only of themselves?

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer of Saint Augustine (354-430)

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know you and desire nothing save only you. Let me hate myself and love you. Let me humble myself and exalt you. Let me think nothing except you. Let me die to myself and live in you. Let me accept whatever happens as from you. Let me banish myself and follow you, and ever desire to follow you. Let me fly from myself and take refuge in you, that I may deserve to be defended by you. Let me fear for myself, let me fear you, and let me be among those who are chosen by you. Let me be willing to obey for the sake of you. Let me cling to nothing save only to you, and let me be poor because of you. Look upon me, that I may love you. Call me that I may see you, and for ever enjoy you. Amen.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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