Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 3, 2007
Scriptural Reference: Sirach 3:17-18,20,28-29; Luke 14:1, 7-14
Some of the virtues that are highly valued in the Bible, proclaimed by Jesus himself, are not necessarily the most popular in today’s culture. I dare say it is the case in today’s readings, one from the Wisdom of Sirach in the Old Testament and the other from Luke’s Gospel. Both focus on humility. For many, I think humility would be considered a fault, a weakness rather than a virtue. And yet, the opposite of humility – Pride is the one of the worst of faults, the root of all our sins, of all evil. Sirach says: “conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.” Isn’t that a beautiful way to give humility its true value. And he adds: “humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” The more powerful, the more important you are does not give you the right to lord it over others; rather you need to be even more humble.
And in the Gospel story Jesus says when you are invited to a banquet do not vie for the first places. You may regret it as others may be invited to take your place and you will be embarrassed. When you invite people to a special dinner, invite those who cannot repay you, otherwise aren’t you really doing something for yourself rather than for others?
Talk about being all inclusive. Our generation talks a lot about being inclusive. Jesus may have something to teach us about being fully inclusive, something only humility can generate.
It is true wisdom that I find in all of this and wisdom is usually that which is under the surface – what we easily see or detect is only the symptoms - the cause of something more important and under the surface is so much more important. And the wisdom of Jesus opens us to that new and more important level of awareness.
Humility makes us see our rightful place in the presence of God. Humility allows us to see the value of others, the respect we owe them, the rights and privileges we want to offer them rather than the demands we want to put on them for our own good.
With this kind of respect and deference to others, what would happen in families? In marriages? in politics? In parishes? In relationships between countries?
It is easier to reject the wisdom of Jesus and call it utopian than to work at living by it and having a solution to broken families, divided countries, quarreling political parties, even war.
I really have no choice but to try to live by the Wisdom of Jesus Christ.