Aug 27, 2016

22nd Sunday


Christ’s parable in the Gospel, told to a people who were very sensitive about their position in social circles, allows us likewise to reflect on the virtue of humility. Yet, humility is paradoxically, a virtue that you can not be deliberate in trying to attain. You can not try to be humble; you can not work on humility for it can easily become false humility.


All human virtues, those attributes which bring out the beauty of our humanity, begin with a reflective, never impulsive mind which chooses carefully how to respond appropriately in often challenging situations. Human virtues become part of our character, often without us knowing, when we persevere in repeatedly seeking the truth about ourselves, our actions, the world we live in and especially about God. (cf. CCC, No. 1810).


In this search for truth and personal authenticity we might hear the expression “to thine own self be true”. These words come from Shakespeare, not Scripture. Too often this phrase has been used to justify personal neediness, selfishness or even irrational behavior. One may also regard being "true to one's self" as a way to personally take ownership of the one's own course through life. However there is always that persistent danger of putting oneself first, even in the place of God. Arrogance is the opposite of humility.


We should never be afraid to acknowledge our own poverty (of mind, body or soul). We are all poor, We do not have within us all the resources to reach to the highest place our soul hungers for. We are not self made. We have a creator.


Christ speaks about a banquet to which all the poor are invited. We must count ourselves among the poor if we are to taste even a tiny bit of heaven. This Holy Eucharist we now celebrate is not given to us because we worked for it or because we are entitled to it or even that we deserve this great sacrament.


This is the table prepared by God who feeds only the poor and those who know, deep down, that they are hungry - hungry for love, hungry for friendship, hungry for healing, hungry for inclusion in the family of God. True justice for ourselves and our community begins by acknowledging our hunger first for God's grace to lift us up to our proper place at the table, and hearing his voice, amid the rabble of the crowd, to move up higher.


“This is the true Sabbath of the just, in which they will have no earthly work to do, but will a have table prepared for them by God. “ (Irenaeus, Adv. Heres.5.33.2)


A Christian does not try to copy or impersonate Christ. A Christian, seeks to imitate him in every way. Rather, it is to become one with him who said “learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart and your souls will find rest” (Matthew 11:29). True rest comes from knowing that we cannot repay or outdo God’s generosity, even at this table. This is the reason we celebrate Mass every Sunday - to lift up our hearts to the Lord in thanks and praise for he has heard the cry of the poor.

This Holy Eucharist reflects best our response - gratitude for then gentle power of his grace and thanksgiving that he counts every one of us worthy to sit by his side in the Kingdom of God.

He Ascended into Heaven

Not so long ago, I had the opportunity, a privilege, to offer the graveside prayers at our Catholic cemetery in San Diego. Founded in 19...