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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 28, 2016


Traducir al Español

By Deacon Jeff Mevissen

I have first-hand experience of being sent from the best seat to the worst seat at a wedding.  It was my brother's wedding and I was sitting in the first row with my parents.  The usher needed more room in the front so I was asked to move.  When I stood, I found the church full, so I proceeded to the very last row.

The call to humility is very close to the center of the Gospel because it is the way in which we follow Jesus – who, according the Philippians 2:

 

Though he was in the form of God, did not deem equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather he emptied himself and took the form of a slave being born in the likeness of men.  He was known to be of human estate and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross.  Because of this, God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name above every other name.

 

That means that when I exalted myself at my brother's wedding I was humbled – when Jesus humbled himself to become a man and embrace the cross – God exalted him.  In the second part of the our Gospel, Jesus instructs us to invite the poor, the lame, and the blind when we have a party because they cannot repay us but God can repay us.  This reminds us of Matthew 25 where Jesus says what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do for him.

 

I like St. Paul's expression in Romans 12: put away ambitious thoughts and associate with the lowly.  It is a good thing to share our resources with the needy but Jesus calls us to something more.  In Mission St. James, it is not the things the missionaries bring or the work they do in Honduras that is the most important part of the mission.  It is the gift of themselves to the people and the love they bring to Honduras.  In Assisi, Francis could have shared bread with lepers but he chose to embrace them.  Who are the lepers God is calling us to embrace?

 

Humility frees us from our ego to embrace others.  Paulette Flench once shared on Facebook that relationships should be more important than being right.  To which her brother responded: “Sorry Paulette – but you are wrong.”  That was a joke but it is not a joke that humility liberates us from an ego that is willing to lose a friend to win an argument.

 

Humility leads us to obedience.  Many identity statements begin with “I.”  For example, “I was born a man but identify as a woman.”  For Christians, identity statements should begin with “God.”  For example, “God calls me to glorify Him in my body.”  I like the story of Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire.
Liddell humbly accepted he could not run the Olympic race he trained for because he refused to race on Sunday.  The next day he ran in a race he did not train for and won anyway.  A competitor, realizing what had happened, slipped him a note, “God honors those who honor him.”

A humeral veil is a vestment worn by clergy to lift the monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament.  The veil covers the minister as if to say: “the one lifting the monstrance is not important; our attention – our focus – is on Christ.”  My dear brothers and sisters, let us veil ourselves in humility and honor Christ that he may honor us.