Sunday, August 28, 2016

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Be Humble

Today's readings remind us about humility and how important it is.

In the first reading, we are told to conduct our affairs with humility.  If we do this, we will be loved more and will be greater.  Humility brings about greatness. Those who are humble will find favor with God (James 4:10). Moreover, we must not seek to do the impossible. This is a sign of vanity. If we think we can go beyond our limits, then this is an affront to humility. Each of us has limits and that is okay. There is nothing wrong with having limits.  Limitations remind us of the fact that we are mortal, not gods.  It reminds us to be humble.  Those of us who are humble will find God as their home, as the responsorial Psalm tells us.  We must rejoice and exult before God.  We must sing to God and praise His name.  God will give a home to us when we are forsaken. God does not abandon anyone.  He is always there to provide for us (Philippians 4:19).

However, we must be humble.  God's Good News is not something that we should fear, as we are reminded of in the second reading.  We have not approached something which is a blazing fire with gloomy darkness or a storm with a trumpet blast.  Rather, we have approached Mount Zion with countless angels having a feast before the throne of God who is judge, as the second reading tells us.  We must be humble in order to truly partake in this feast. We are already participating in it now in the Mass.  Humility is important.  This is why at Mass we confess our sins. We remind ourselves that we are sinners; not because we must feel guilty or shame but because we must be humble and ask God for mercy and forgiveness.  God is a God of mercy and love.

We must be humble in order to be closer to God.  The word humility or being humble comes from the word "humus" which means dirt, lower ground or soil (http://etymonline.com/index.php?term=humble&allowed_in_frame=0). This should remind us of Ash Wednesday when we receive the ashes and are reminded that we are dust and to dust we shall return (Genesis 3:19).  Man is nothing but dust, the breath of God; a mere thought (Psalm 8:4-8).  Humility is the key to the many graces God gives. St. JosemarĂ­a Escrivá stated, "Humility is so necessary for salvation that Jesus takes every opportunity to stress its importance. Here he uses the attitudes of people at a banquet to remind us again that it is God who assigns the places at the heavenly banquet. Together with humility, the realization of the greatness of man's dignity—and of the overwhelming fact that, by grace, we are made children of God—forms a single attitude. It is not our own efforts that save us and give us life; it is the grace of God. This is a truth which must never be forgotten." (Christ Is Passing By, 133)

Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus reminds us of the importance of being last or being humble (Matthew 20:16). While dining with a big shot Pharisee, He shares a parable about someone who was invited to a wedding banquet. Jesus advises that one should not sit in the place of honor if invited to a banquet.  Instead, he or she should sit in the lowest place so that the host can upgrade his or her seat, so to speak.  This would spare the person invited from total embarrassment.  We must be humble. This cannot be stressed enough. Keeping in mind the etymology of the word humble/humility, we should remind ourselves that seeds grow from the bottom up, not the other way around. The seeds planted in us must be nourished with humility so they can grow into a strong tree that can face any storm the environment around it throws at it (Matthew 13).  At our parishes, we sometimes see some fight over positions of power, this is not Christianity. The Catholic Church is not a place to create a success ladder in order to climb it.  Christ will knock that ladder down causing one to fall on his or her face, metaphorically speaking (Proverbs 16:18).  Rather, we should accept the role and power God gives us in the parish. The lector is not more important than the usher.

Similarly, the extraordinary minister is not more important than the altar server.  All are servants of God.  Humility is something I always wrestle with. Coming from an atheist and academic background, I was taught to succeed, step on others to do so and be the best. This brainwashing of the world was softened at baptism and the other Sacraments are the bleach that is continuing to remove the residue left behind.  This is why I use a pen name to write. I do not want to become some Catholic celebrity, God forbid!  Instead, I want to be the hidden person preaching God's word and not receive credit for it.   I pray for humility every day and you should as well.  Remember, thinking we are humble can be a sign of pride. That judgment should be left to God and our humility should be demonstrated, not contemplated upon.  Being humble means to help others, especially those who are in most need.  Christ reminds us that we should not invite our friends or relatives to a lunch of dinner.  What does He mean by this?  It is simple.

Many times people think that by helping relatives they are doing work like Mother Teresa did. This is not so. While we should help our friends and relatives, when we help strangers, the act has much worth because we did so not knowing who the person we have helped were.  Many people ask me, "When homeless people come to me asking for money, should I give it to them?  What if they use it on drugs?"  My reply is to give it to them anyway if you can (Luke 6:30).  If the homeless person uses it on something inappropriate, that is not your fault.  He or she will answer to God for that.  God will judge you for giving with total sincerity and love.  This is what matters at the end, not if the money was used to buy food or not.  As Christ said, if we help those who cannot repay us, God will cover the tab, so to speak.  Trust me, God is a good payee!  He does not default on His payments!  In light of Christ's command to help others.

I ask you to please help me continue this work by donating what you can.  Satan has been attacking me lately. Last week, I posted a video on YouTube of me praying Lauds or morning prayer from the Liturgy of Hours and that very day, Google suspended my profile without reason. A holy bishop I worked for who is with the Lord now told me that when bad things happen it means you are doing good and Satan is livid.  I ask for prayers from all and for support.  May Christ be praised always!    


Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082816.cfm

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