Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

22nd Sunday C

Lk 14: 1, 7-14

ST AUGUSTINE of Hippo once said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men (and women) as angels."  Now, this quote has something to do with the gospel this Sunday. 
 
First, let us begin with reflecting on the importance of meals for Jesus. It is evident in the gospels that Jesus loves to dine with people. But eating with people is not simply an occasion for fun and enjoyment. Meals have become more of fellowship. Generally speaking, Jesus uses the occasion of dining or meals for teaching. Like for instance, when the Pharisees criticized him for eating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus told them that he ate with them in order to bring sinners back to God the Father. And that had silenced the Pharisees.
 
Secondly, let us reflect on the teaching of Jesus when he was invited for dinner by one of the leading Pharisees. Jesus observed the behavior of the guests. They were pushing themselves forward, rushing to get the good seats or "choosing the places of honor at the table". Jesus was disappointed by what he saw. In consequence, he made a comment on it by teaching these guests about the importance of humility. He said, "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor."
 
Humility does not appear appealing to most of us. In the corporate world, it seems there is no room for humility. Those who succeed in their careers are those people who are aggressive, powerful, and who push themselves forward. Humility then becomes associated with the weak. However, we also notice that bosses or managers appreciate subordinates who are unassuming team-players, not credit-grabbers. In this case, we can say that humility is nevertheless regarded as a value in workplaces. The comments of Jesus are worth reflecting because he expects us to behave the way he wants it. God wants us to have an honest assessment of ourselves without being proud and arrogant. Before God, we must be clothed with humility and remain his humble servants.
 
Thirdly, let us reflect on the words of Jesus to the host who invited him. Jesus told him, “Do not invite your friends, brothers, relatives or wealthy neighbors. Rather, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind….” The teaching appears too radical. But we need to understand it in its proper context. In real life, we have the practice of inviting only our relatives and friends to a party, because of the fact that we enjoy the company with them. We do not enjoy being with people who are unknown to us. How could we invite the people mentioned by Jesus when they have nothing to do with us?
 
However, inviting people for a meal or banquet is a show of our generosity. Generosity is a Christian value that we must nourish and sustain. Thus, the point of the exhortation of Jesus is simply to extend our generosity to these groups of people. We do still invite our friends and relatives, but we must be extra-generous by inviting also these people who should have a share of our kindness and generosity.
 
This teaching of Jesus is gradually being embraced and lived out by some people. Some wealthy parishioners have done this. These rich people celebrate their birthday with the unfortunate and the poor. When asked what did they feel when they did this, they would generally say that there is a feeling of joy and fulfillment. They feel the joy upon seeing the “neglected” people in the parish or society to celebrate with them, and thus, have become also part of their life. So, let us learn from their experience so that we can also understand the wisdom of Jesus in the gospel.
 

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