The Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass!
“My Child, Conduct Your Affairs With Humility”
Our readings for this Sunday focus our attention on humility and service to those who have no ability to repay.
In our first reading (Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29), we hear from one of the last books of the Old Testament, written by a man named Jeshua, ben Sira. It is a book of wisdom and moral teachings. In this passage, ben Sira extolls the virtues of humility and alms giving. The proud and the haughty will not find favor with God.
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.
Our Epistle reading (Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24), is a study in contrast between the Mosaic Covenant that stressed the “gloomy darkness” of a fearsome God and the New Covenant of Christ, based on the justice of a loving God. We have approached the heavenly Jerusalem with Jesus as our mediator.
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.
Our Gospel reading (Luke 14:1,7-14), is a parable on humility and service. Jesus seems to have been echoing the words of Sirach, “Humble yourselves the more, the greater you are.” Jesus also suggested rather than invite those of your own station, invite the poor and the lame, those who have no ability to repay you.
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."
Today’s readings on humility seem to be a good definition of the beatitude, “Poor in Spirit.” It is the opposite of pride. It is the state of being that Jesus calls us to. Humility and service to others go hand-in-hand. It is in those we serve that we find Jesus; it is in our humility that Jesus finds us.
Read and reflect on this Sunday’s full readings at www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090119.cfm