Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I Sirach 3:17-20, 28-29
Reading II Hebrews 12:18-24
Gospel Luke 14:1, 7-14
Are you and I humble people? If you and I look around in our lives, quite often we do not practice humility. Something happens to us and we think, “Well, maybe I just deserve this.” And Jesus cuts through all of that. He says, “If you are going to be humble you have to do something that someone else will recognize that you are doing it for them, and not for yourself.
In our community we have a group of men and women who keep alive the mission of the Ladies of Charity in our town. It may be one of the only, or one of the very few places, where people give so much time and don’t receive a dime for it. It astounds people.
“You mean, you don’t even get minimum wage here.”
“No. We don’t receive anything.” They do it because they just want to do it.
Sometimes when you and I are trying to be humble, that’s when someone can take advantage of us. Say you are one of the men or women working at the Ladies of Charity and you give a family groceries and clothes for all of the kids, and then that family walks outside and, because perhaps the groceries are not the ones they want — they leave the groceries right there on the sidewalk.
It’s humbling to say, “I don’t really know what is going on with that family, but I’d take any food and appreciate it.”
Also, when we look at elections — whether someone is running for president, or someone is running for governor, mayor or whatever office it might be — you are running because someone asked you to run, or maybe you are running on your own and you don’t win. Then, it becomes important for both sides to respond: For the person who loses to say, “I’m glad he or she won, that person will do a great job.” And for the person who wins to say, “That person was a very tough opponent. He or she has so many talents and because of him or her I was able to come out on top.”
When it comes to our church it is the same way. Everyone should be welcome in this church. Not just those who have money, not just those who have been here for a lifetime, but all should be welcome. It is very important for us to think and say, “Anyone who comes in, we will welcome you, and not judge you.” Because we don’t know anything about them — except that they want to come to a Holy Place and they want to pray.
And so it comes back to that whole experience of being humble. It’s not easy but when it happens to us, you and I become a much better person. So this week may we look at our lives and realize that there are days we have done something very well and we know that, but more than likely, it was because other people supported us.
Humble also means that we not be envious of anyone, and not try to keep up with someone — but just to be the person that God has created us to be.
Years ago I was in a parish and there was a certain group that ran around together. They had above average income and it was very interesting to watch them. If one family bought a new home, the others bought a new home within so much time. If one purchased a new van, they all purchased new vans. If one family went to Hawaii, before you knew it they all went to Hawaii. They were very nice people and they had very nice families. But it developed into an attitude of, “Well, if they can afford it. You know what, we can afford it.” And they could all afford it, that wasn’t the issue. However, they could say to the others, “I like your home, and I like your new car. Did you enjoy Hawaii.” And they could think, “I do not need to be envious of you. I just need to enjoy my own home, my own car, my own family, my own vacation. I do not need to be just like you.”
So, it’s tricky.
When I ask you, “Are you humble?” You might answer, “Well, I try to be.” But when someone puts us down, or indirectly draws us to be humble — that is when you and I become the Christian. Sometimes we don’t even know it, but someone else is affected by it.
So today, may you and I leave church humbly. God has accepted each of us with our sinfulness. He gives us his word, he gives us his body, he gives us his blood — now go out into the world and make a difference — but just don’t put yourself in first place.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0055)