Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

You know, in this wonderful country, we have been blessed with tremendous spiritual experiences and movements throughout the Church. Here in the United States thousands, tens of thousands, have grown due to Marriage Encounters, Divine Mercy Cenacles, Franciscan Third Order Groups, and so many more. Here in San Antonio ACTS Retreats have provided so much help for our people[1]. All of these groups and so many more are sources of blessings for the individuals and for the Church however, at the same time the members of these groups have to be careful that they don’t covey the message, “Your spirituality would be so much deeper if you made this experience, this workshop, this weekend.” Maybe it would. Maybe it would not. God works his Grace in different ways for different people. We need to exercise caution here, for if we convey the message that doing this or that, belonging to this movement or that movement, will help others be as good as we are, then we are falling into pride. Pride is seeing ourselves as superior to others and this is so wrong[2].

My brother, my sister, we never have the right to consider ourselves, whether as individuals or as members of a group, as superior to anyone else in our relationship to God. What we need to understand is that our position at the heavenly banquet table is determined not by us. It is a gracious gift of God.

Today’s readings speak about humility. This is the virtue we all struggle to obtain because it is the opposite of the fundamental flaw of human beings, pride. We have to make war on that which mankind has been doing since Adam and Eve decided that they really didn’t need to have God in their lives. That is difficult. We are continually thinking about ourselves, and the particular status we should have in our families, at work, at school, in the neighborhood, etc. We forget that we are nothing without God, and everything only because of God.

Perhaps sometimes, you feel, perhaps sometimes, I feel, “I am not good enough.” We are right, and we are wrong. By ourselves, we are never good enough. But the Lord makes us good enough. So, we work humbly with our God.

So where do we belong at the banquet table? Where should we sit? We belong where the Lord places us. We sit where He tells us to sit. We cannot be concerned with where others are sitting. We are only concerned with our response to the unique Grace God has given each of us. To view ourselves as better or worse than others is pride. To recognize ourselves as benefitting from the gratuitous gifts of God, that is humility.

Jesus was humble, a true servant. He did only the works his Father gave him to do and he spoke only the words his Father wanted him to speak.

The Church is like that. She speaks only the words she hears Jesus speak. And we, priests and people, should be like that –speaking only the words we hear the Church speak.

So humble people are lucky people. Jesus says they will be exalted in the kingdom of heaven. But already here on earth they are lucky.

They don’t have to be jealous. They can let others have their gifts. They don’t have to hold grudges. Humble people can forgive easily because they know who they are; they know their sins. And humble people can stop hating themselves and start loving others.

Let us invoke today and always the intercession of our blessed Mother, she is the handmaid of the Lord[3], she can teach us the humble way to approach to her Son and to build strong communities based on Love and patience and humility. Amen ■

[2] Sunday 29th August, 2010, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Ecclesiasticus 3:17-20, 28-29. God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor —Ps 67(68):4-7, 10-11. Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24. Luke 14:1, 7-14 [Beheading of St John the Baptist].
[3] Luke 1:38
Ilustration: Italian mosaic artist, Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciplesc. 1210, Mosaic, Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris