Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29 |Ps 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11 | Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a
Mt 11:29ab |Lk 14:1, 7-14
“Humble yourself and you will find favor with God.” – Sirach 3:18
“Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Luke 14:11
Today’s readings speak of humility, a subject few have interest in, but have experienced in their lifetime. In the selections, humility and reward are presented as partners. Like having surgery or preparing for competition, or working hard to achieve a goal, humility has a pay-off. Both authors praise humility: “You will be loved more than the giver of gifts, you will find favor with God, . . . alms atone for sins.” Are these not attributes of pride, rather than humility? Is this for the hearing of the rich and haughty and not the poor and lowly?
As Jesus is a guest of the Pharisees, he is specific on how to enter a banquet hall as he instructs those present to start low and aim high, otherwise it could be embarrassing to be asked to take a less desirable seat. Before concluding the lesson, Jesus ups the ante by telling would-be hosts to invite the poor, crippled, lame and blind when they compose a guest list.
These selections put us in a position of feeling guilty, as the norm in society is separation of the rich and poor. Those who have create comfort zones where they live, work, and socialize, while the have-nots are forced to barely get by each day, or even die for lack of necessities.
In a world of classism, the rich and powerful have many more options than the poor. The circumstances of mingling with the less fortunate could level the playing field. Nonprofit groups who advocate for the needy have been forced to approach the monied people and receive generous donations, while the givers are proud of their response but rarely receive a name or face of the recipient. This system of benefit banquets and golf tournaments has benefitted both sides for years, but if taking the message of Jesus seriously could create occasions of table fellowship, there could be more parity rather than an increase in the divisions witnessed today.
It is the hour for all to come up higher in efforts to empower the lower. Think not of the pain, but the rewards for all.
Sr. Dorothy Maxwell, O.P.