Gospel Reflection: Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute

 

TWENTY- SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

AUGUST 28, 2015

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord,
and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

The holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 14:1, 7-14

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.”

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION

The fact that the dinner event recorded in today’s Gospel took place on the Sabbath adds significance to the story.   The Sabbath Day was, and is for Jews, the most sacred day of the week; it is the first of all Jewish Holy days.  The Book of Genesis tells us that on the seventh day God rested from all the good work He had done in creation.  The Sabbath is the Lord’s Day, and we are commanded to keep the day holy!  Rightly so, the day draws our attention to God, Creator and Redeemer.   We keep this day holy by our devotion to God through worship and our reflection on all He continues to do for us – giving us life and sanctifying us.

On this most sacred of days, Jesus focuses the attention of the dinner guests on the true nature of God.   While Judaism respected the All Transcendence of God, His greatness and grandeur, Jesus draws them into the very heart of God.   In the person of Jesus, God has descended from his lofty throne out of love for humanity that desperately needed Him.  God sees that humanity is destined for self-destruction without His direct and saving intervention.  Therefore, the Son was sent to save us from sin and death, and Jesus Christ humbly accepted this mission.

Knowing that He is under the watchful eyes of the dinner guests – people there were observing him carefully — Christ directs the guests’ attention to their own behavior.   Unlike God who is Humility Incarnate, people seek to exalt themselves by seeking places of honor.  Self-aggrandizement is a manifestation of the internal sin of pride.  Self-centered behavior makes one blind to others and their needs.  Selfishness always leads to ignoring the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.   Thank God that God does not ignore us who walk through life poor, lame and blind.   In His humility, His incredible love for weak and lost humanity, God descends: though he was in the form of God, (He) did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness (Philippians 2: 6-7).

As the Gospel reveals the real and true God to us through Jesus Christ, it also exposes our true selves.  The Gospel reveals the war that exists inside us between our self-centeredness, and the humble selflessness that God call us to be – being like God.

Humility is a key and fundamental virtue.  It is a virtue that grows over time.  With God’s enlightenment that comes to us through our mediation on the Gospel and our quiet prayer, we become more and more aware of pride and more and more drawn to God’s way of life.   The old self of pride dissolves over time as we push ourselves into more selfless service of God and neighbor.  Pride does not die easily.  It clings to us, and at times violently convulses us into self-pity.  The self resists surrender and self-abandonment because it fears destruction and annihilation.

In a homily, Saint John Chrysostom outlines five paths of repentance that lead to heaven.  The fifth path is humility.  The saint says: If, moreover, a man lives a modest, humble life, that … takes sin away. Proof of this is the tax-collector who had no good deeds to mention, but offered his humility instead and was relieved of a heavy burden of sins.

Once again, the Gospel has come full circle to what Jesus has been saying to us for the past few weeks: For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.   What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? (Luke 9: 24-25).

 

WE BELIEVE, AND THEREFORE SPEAK (2 Corinthians 4:13)

Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our Web Site for details: MalvernRetreat.com

 

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