22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Take Up The Last Place!”
God made the New Covenant of his love with the poor, the lowly, the down-trodden and the oppressed. It is therefore in a spirit of humility, the spirit of Jesus, that we make our celebration today, asking him to accept the homage of the humble.
In the Bible the Kingdom of God is often compared to a banquet. Jesus has given norms regarding those to be invited and how to behave at such a feast. His disciples, he says in the Gospel, must be constantly ready to serve the last, the poor and those rejected by all.
The first reading gives us the reflection of a wise man of the Old Testament. He teaches us that the best way to be loved by God and by the people is to be ever ready and open towards our brothers and sisters.
The second reading confirms that as we approach Christ with an attitude of love towards our brothers and sisters, we accept the new religion, which is the religion of cheer and joy, a feast.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible. These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings. These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings. ‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 3:19-21, 30-31.
The reading that the lectionary gives us this Sunday seems to be collection of pronouncements on several subjects. The first part of the reading is about
‘humility’. “The greater you are, the more humbly you should behave”: this is what Sirach recommends to his disciples.
Humility elicits respect and affection from all those with whom the humble person conducts his or her affairs. All we have was given to us by God as a gift; he gave us life, beauty, strength, intelligence and a good character. Nothing we have is of our making. We can’t boast of anything. Who is a humble person then? The person who turns into the servant of all, considering all others as brothers and sisters to serve, who can turn to him or her for help in case of need; the person who keeps his head bowed down, like the one ever ready to receive orders from his Master.
How is the behaviour of the members of our community? Are the more intelligent and educated pretending to ‘lord it over’ others? Are there people who try to hide their talents because they do not want to be asked to serve? Humility, especially in persons who enjoy some prestige, will find favour with God. The greater we are, the more we should make ourselves immediately available to those in need. The good that comes into our lives is not for us alone. There are also many humble non-Christians though, and they are those persons who put all their resources and abilities at the service of others, just as Jesus did, who was “gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29).
True humility is rooted in down-to-earth truthfulness and honesty. It recognizes where all good gifts come from and gives the credit to God. It nurtures God’s gifts and develops talents in gratitude and celebration of life, in co-operation and teamwork, in service and fidelity. The humble person especially rejoices in the gifts and successes of another. Whoever walks humbly before God will be prayerful and reverential, grateful and courageous, respectful and gentle.
Like all wisdom literature, Ecclesisaticus was written to aid its readers to live life to the full. Its author Ben Sira, passes on the philosophy that Israel had developed in its family and community traditions. Among these values was a horror of pride and extravagance. They had learnt that their God was ‘One’ who prefers the company of the humble and the thoughtful.
Psalm 68: 4-7, 10-11.
Today’s Psalm ranges over much of the history of Salvation; the verses selected concentrate on how God has particularly selected for his blessings those to whom the world refuses its favours, like the orphan, the widow, the lonely and the poor.
Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24. Our final extract from Hebrews presents us with a great celebration in heaven. As in the rest of the book, the ‘old dispensation’ of Sinai is contrasted with the ‘New Covenant’ brought by Christ. The terror of God’s revelation to Moses belongs to the past; the faithful are already at home in the ‘New Jerusalem’. All possess the rights of a first born-son (Ps 2:7; Rom 8:19), thanks to Christ whose mediation is so superior to that of Moses (Heb 3:3). Their names are written in the citizen lists of heaven (Phil 3:20; Rv 21:27). In a final contrast, the blood of Abel is compared to that of Christ; the one led to vengeance (Gn 4:10), but the other to salvation. Luke 14:1, 7-14.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus shares a meal with a Pharisee on a Sabbath day. He breaks the religious law of the Sabbath by curing somebody who was sick with dropsy. (This section is omitted from the Gospel reading). Jesus then goes on to teach about the importance of being humble in the choices of places when one is invited to a feast.
People, who think of themselves very highly and look for the places of honour at the high table, may find themselves at the bottom of the table when God judges their true worth. Jesus uses the occasion to nourish his hosts spiritually and to open them up to the reality of the Kingdom that he proclaims. Participation in the Kingdom of God, that is, in the life of God himself, is often compared to participating in a banquet. Such meals often had Messianic overtones. They celebrated the victory of God over the forces of evil, strengthened the relationship between God and his people and united people among themselves.
This is even truer of a wedding feast, which is sometimes used in the Bible to speak of the relationship of love between God and his people. A wedding feast brings people together who want to witness the “yes-for-life” a vow that a man and woman pledge to each other before God. Behind these two people, there are families who will grow to know each other and be united through the love relationship of their children.
God’s attitude is like that of a bridegroom and chooses Israel as his bride. The first Christians, too, thought of their relationship with Christ in terms of a marriage. For a wedding or a feast we usually invite friends and family. Jesus on the contrary invited people for his meals that nobody else would invite: the poor, sinners and the handicapped. This was for him a powerful way to show that God’s love is given freely to all. And he invites everybody to do the same. Jesus invites his fellow guests and us not to judge or assess ourselves but to allow God to look deep down into our hearts and to see what we are really worth and give us the places that we deserve.
In the upside-down world of the fairy-tale stories and the ‘Truth’ in the Gospel, there is ‘wisdom of reversal’: behind what appears to be worldly foolishness there is great wisdom; behind the faces of the scarred and the broken there is great dignity. Jesus keeps God’s preference for the little people at the forefront of his teaching. He has the kind of love that sees beyond appearances, the kind of love that pierces disguises, the kind of love that calls people out of imprisonment. Jesus’ love dignifies people. He asks that our love do the same to others. We don’t love a poor person to ‘merit’ a better place in paradise! Anyway we can’t merit a thing, paradise is given to us gratuitously.
There is often a reversal too when God judges us and the ‘first will be last’. Powerful and famous people of today may be very small in the eyes of God. Many of us would probably be surprised to find out where we stand in the sight of God, which means in reality. At the wedding feast of heaven, God will have the first place and near him those whose hearts are completely turned towards God.
When we are invited to Jesus’ feast will we automatically head for the places of honour or will we wait for our Host to show us to our right places?
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following
22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Consider the saying: “The greater you are, the more humbly you should behave”. Does this not epitomize the character and virtues of Jesus? Humility elicits respect and affection from those with whom we all interact with. To bring peace and love into this world, we all need to strive to be ‘meek and humble’ of heart. Mon. … All that we have and more was given to us by God, nothing we have is of our own making. We cannot boast of anything. True humility is rooted in down-to-earth truthfulness and honesty. It recognizes where all good gifts come from and gives the credit to God. Tues. … Today’s readings tell us that humble service practiced by those persons who enjoy some prestige, will find favour with God. The good that comes into our lives is not for us alone. The greater we are, the more we make ourselves available to those in need. Wed. … The second reading tells us that the terror of God’s revelation to Moses belongs to the past. The ‘old dispensation’ of Sinai is contrasted with the ‘New Covenant’ brought by Christ. The faithful are already at home in the ‘New Jerusalem’. Christ’s precious blood that was shed for all on the Cross has given us redemption. Thurs. … With the sometimes heavy demands on our limited time in this fast moving world, we too, should make use of mealtimes with friends and family to communicate God’s love for all and reflecting on Sunday’s homily and all the blessings that we have. Frid. … Jesus challenges us all daily, about the ‘places we choose to sit at’. Jesus invites us not to judge ourselves but to allow God to look into our hearts to see what we are really worth and give us the places we truly deserve. Only God can look into the hearts of people and make this judgment. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Sat. … Love is a gift from God and Jesus has shown us that it is wonderful to be able to love like God without expecting any reward. However when we truly love gratuitously, we become like the Father, and experience his same joy and happiness, which lasts for an eternity.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, by Your great love, graces and blessings teach us the true value of ‘humility’ in our lives and how it can benefit others and our spirituality. Teach us gratuitous love so that we may enjoy true happiness and joy in your presence for all eternity.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.