Sunday: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time Date: October 28, 2007 Year: C The readings: [Sir. 35:15-17, 20-22; 2 Tim. 4:6-8, 16-18; Lk. 18:9-14] The message: The humble will be exalted. Prepared by: THE CATHOLIC DOORS MINISTRY Total words: 1485
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"All who humble themselves will be exalted." [Lk. 18:14] These words echo the Words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew where it is said, "Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven." [Mt. 18:4] Why is the humble person the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? It is because "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." [Jas. 4:6; Prov. 3:34] Therefore, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you." [Jas. 4:10]
Today's First Reading from the Book of Sirach [Sir. 35:15-17, 20- 22] served the purpose of drawing our confidence in the Lord so we may rely upon Him in all our undertakings. The reading began by stating that, "The Lord is the judge, and within him there is no partiality." [Sir. 35:15] On the subject of partiality, the Letter of James says, "Have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?" [Jas. 2:4] "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy." [Jas 3:17]
Continuing with the Book of Sirach, the Lord "will not show partiality to the poor but he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged. The Lord will not ignore the supplication of the orphan, or the widow when she pours out her complaint. [Sir. 35:16- 7] These words tell us that the ear of the Lord is inclined towards the needy, the poor, the orphans, the widows, those who have been abandoned in the hospitals, the senior lodges and even those who are incarcerated.
The prayers of the faithful are pleasing to the Lord; they are heard before His Heavenly Throne. But the prayers of the humble touch the Lord; they pierce His Sacred Heart until the Most High responds by executing judgment to bring justice to the righteous. "Indeed, the Lord will not delay." [Sir. 35:22]
When speaking of humility, it is important to understand the proper meaning of this word. Genuine humility is the middle ground between being arrogant and having a false humility. The humble Christian is aware of his defects. He is not proud, nor self- assertive. Through spiritual growth in Christ, he has lessened or destroyed the traces of pride that were staining his soul.
The factor that separates genuine humility from false humility is honesty. Let us take as an example what someone says to a teacher. "You do a good job." Now, if the teacher starts boasting about how good she is, this is pride. If the teacher denies being a good teacher when she is one, by undermining the truth, she is practicing a false-humility. If the teacher replied, "Thank you" or "I do my best" without drawing attention to the matter, her honesty reflects true humility.
In today's Second Reading from the Second Letter of Paul to Timothy, [2 Tim. 4:6-8, 16-18] we find examples of Paul's humility. When Paul said, "the time of my departure has come," [2 Tim. 4:6] he was stating a truth. His soon to come death was a departure from this life and a return to Christ. [Phil. 1:23] Through his words, he was not seeking pity, nor boasting of all what he had done in the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
St. Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." [2 Tim. 4:6] Comparing his life to that of a race, [1 Cor. 9:26; 2 Tim. 4:7] Paul was speaking the truth. His life was coming to an end and he had persevered and guarded the deposit of faith. [1 Tim. 6:14, 20]
Saint Paul never bragged that he was a better Christian than the others. He never bragged that he accomplished more than the others. For the work that he performed was not his work but rather the work of God that was manifested through him by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Name of Jesus. While Paul did not brag, he did not deny the truth. When Paul spoke of sinners, he rightfully viewed himself as the worst of sinners [1 Tim. 1:15-6] because of the life that he had lived prior to knowing Jesus Christ. When he preached, he glorified the resurrected Christ... not himself.
Today's reading from the Gospel of Luke [Lk. 18:9-14] also spoke of humility. As you all heard in the Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, the Pharisee judged himself as righteous, viewing others in contempt. That is because in those days, the Pharisees were viewed as being completely "just" before the Law. Therefore, they had great confidence in themselves.
So here we have two persons who are gathered to pray, either at 9:00 A.M. or at 3:00 P.M., these being the hours of prayer. The Pharisee stands before God, all proud of himself, thanking God that he is not like the rest of the people. He bragged about how he fulfills his commitment to God and the Temple by fasting and giving a tenth of his income. In those days, the Pharisees abstained from food and water every Monday and Thursday.
At a distance, the tax collector prayed to God, asking for His mercy because he is a sinner. Ashamed of his life, he would not even look up towards heaven. He only beat his breast, such being symbolic of saying, "Mea Culpa." The words of the tax collector echoed the words that are found in Psalm 51, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me." [Ps. 51:3]
Who in the eye of God was justified? It was the tax collector! "For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." [Lk. 14:11, 18:14; Mt. 18:4, 23:12]
The necessity to humble oneself is echoed over and over in the Holy Bible. Here are a two examples. In the First Letter of Peter, we read, "All of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for 'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time." [1 Pet. 5:5- 7]
In the Letter of Paul to the Colossians, we read, "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience." [Col. 3:12]
As Christians, we are called to humble ourselves as Jesus humbled Himself. How great was the humility of Jesus! "... Being found in human form, (Jesus) humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross." [Phil. 2:8] He in Who the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily, [Col. 1:19, 2:9] "emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness." [Phil. 2:7] What great love for each and everyone of us the Lord Jesus has manifested through this great act of humility!
Before closing my homily, I would like to provide you with example of areas in life where people lack in humility.
1) First, let us start with the children and teenagers. How many boast of how smart they are in school? Many, because of the boasting of their academic successes, they put down the other children and teens, consequently destroying the self-confidence of those who have lower marks.
2) How about those fishing stories that we hear all the time, the fishermen who caught a fish as big as this (extend hands four feet apart)? They threw the fish back into the water because they only went fishing for the sport.
3) How about all those golfing pros who claim to have made a hole in one so many times? While the real pros rarely make a hole in one, we suddenly have all these golfers boasting of their great accomplishments.
4) Then we have those cooks who boast that they are betters cooks than anyone else. While it cannot be denied that there are some very good cooks, everybody cannot be the best cooks! As you can see, humility can even be practiced in the kitchen.
5) And then there are those who boast that they are holier than others because they implement so many hours of adoration during the month, or they implement an endless list of spiritual devotions on a daily basis, or even they pray so many Rosaries. While these pious devotions are commendable, by boasting of them, one becomes no different than the Pharisee.
These are but a few examples of how we can lack in the virtue of humility in our daily lives. By placing ourselves above all others, in truth, we are calling upon ourselves the Lord's judgment. The end result will be that we will be among the last. It is better to practice daily humility in our lives, praising and encouraging others. Then the Lord God shall exalt us because of our genuine humility.
As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us true humility so we may always be pleasing to the eyes of God.
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[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]
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"The Lord is the judge, and within him there is no partiality. He will not show partiality to the poor but he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged. The Lord will not ignore the supplication of the orphan, or the widow when she pours out her complaint.
The one whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and the prayer of such a person will reach to the clouds.
The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and it will not rest until it reaches its goal; it will not desist until the Most High responds and does justice for the righteous, and executes judgment. Indeed, the Lord will not delay." [Sir. 35:15-17, 20-22]
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"As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
At my first defence no one came to my support but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them!
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen." [2 Tim. 4:6-8, 16-18]
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"Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and regarded others with contempt:
'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God I thank you that I am not like other people thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.'
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'
I tell you, this man went back home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." [Lk. 18:9-14]
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