Homily 22nd Sunday of Year C: Fr. Michael Udoekpo· Sirach 3:17-18,20,28-29
· Ps 68:4-5,6-7,10-11
· Heb 12:18-19,22-24a
· Luke 14:1,7-14
The Virtue of Humility
Today we live in a world of “the winner takes it all.” A world where the rich look down on the poor. A world where we like to compare ourselves with others. Some feel superior or holier than others. While others feel inferior or less than others. Any of us can easily fall into this trap of arrogance, putting ourselves above others, or entertaining a poor or inferior self-image of ourselves. All three readings plus the responsorial Psalm of today(" God in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor,") invite us to avoid such mistakes and rather joyfully embrace, the beatitude, a humble and positive behavior in daily life.
In the 1st reading, from the Book of Sirach, though written more than a Hundred Years before Christ, we are reminded of what usually and really counts in life; namely; the wisdom of humility wherever we are and in whatever we do. 200 years before Christ, Sirach said, “My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be love more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” This was true then, 200 years before Christ. This is still true today. Truly, humility is a spiritual disposition towards God. It is an attitude of bending before God, submitting our will to embrace God’s will in our dealings with our neighbors
But notice that the 1st reading is not recommending that we make ourselves stupid before others. No, our daily life should reflects our interior disposition towards God, displayed in gentleness, simplicity, generosity, kindness and compassion towards our neighbors, superiors, family members, fellow workers, and friends, even towards those who seem difficult to us. Even the gifts we give to the poor, the preaching we preach, to our congregations, the teaching we teach to our students, the counseling we counsel, the leading we lead , the work we do, the administration we administer to our subjects the Christianity we live should all be done with humility and meekness. The corporal works of mercy: (feeding the hungry, providing water for the thirty, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, burying the dead) we practice in this Year of Mercy, inaugurated by Pope Francis, should be practiced with humility and compassion. Doesn’t Christ say in today’s alleluia verse, Matthew 11:29a “take my yoke upon you… learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart?”
Humility is not a weakness. Rather, it is a strength in rightly taking one’s place before God. That is, in mount Zion, spoken of in today’s 2nd reading, the Letter to the Hebrews. Those who practice the virtue of humility will see God, will be exalted, and will find a place in God’s Kingdom, in Mount Zion, the New Heavenly Jerusalem. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, those who humble themselves will be exalted in Jerusalem! This has been the case 200 years before Christ.
Christ makes this clearer in the parable of the invited guest in today’s gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14). He reminds the Pharisees that when you are invited for a dinner or wedding party, it’s better not to hurry to take the front seat. Wait humbly behind until you are seated in your rightful place to avoid embarrassment. Do we wait for our rightly place with patient, with humility? The kingdom of God we must realize is also opened to everyone, the rich, the poor the crippled, the lame, the blind—and those we thought were insignificant. Do we consider our neighbors, especially the poor, co-members and partakers of the kingdom of God. Or do we think that I alone, or you alone have the monopoly of the kingdom?
Of course, it is not so much whether we are physically behind or in front at wedding or dinner parties. Rather, the message is that in life, wherever we are, live, work, serve, teach, lead, preach, minister, even in our families, we should conduct ourselves wisely with grace, joy and humility. No need for inordinate comparison of ourselves with others. Our Blessed Mother Mary, who said to the Angel, Be it done to me according to your words, should also be our model of humility in our dealings with our neighbors.