Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Am I Meek and Humble of Heart?

Our readings on this Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time speak of the need for good and humble hearts. The beautiful reading from the Book of Sirach seems a good guide for how we should conduct our lives. “My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” Unfortunately, this is not the lesson that we hear encouraged and taught in our society and culture today. All too often we get caught in the “ego”, we thrive on competition, rivalry and personal success. These attitudes often breed conflict, enmity and distrust. We tend to live in a culture of conflict where people want to protect what they feel is rightfully theirs, protect the things that they have worked hard and long to acquire.
The Letter of Paul to the Hebrews suggests that perhaps this culture of conflict has been with us for a long time and has been shaped by how people have imaged and imagined God. Time and time again the ancient Israelite people, those brought into the covenant relationship with God through the great prophets, Abraham, Moses and Isaiah, turned away and hardened their hearts. Often this hard-heartedness led to people creating their own image of God and limiting God to their people and their tribe. Paul, writing to their descendants, the Hebrews, reminds them that they are called to dwell in the city of the living God, in a new and heavenly Jerusalem, brought about through Jesus Christ. Paul’s vision of living Christ, living community in relationship with all people, was so much more inclusive and expansive.

In today’s gospel we sense a very observant Jesus who was invited to dine in the home of one of the leading Pharisees. Considering the culture and custom of that time, it is easy to imagine how the seating arrangement worked. Is it really any different in our current milieu? Often today, people still get caught up with the ego, the “places of honor”, identifying those who are acceptable and those who are unacceptable, the misfits.

This timely parable calls us to “check our ego at the door” and be attentive with hearts open to see ourselves in relationship, as one with others. We are called to have the mind and heart of Christ Jesus who humbled himself, becoming incarnate in our human flesh. Christ becomes incarnate in all human flesh, in the flesh of the poor, the flesh of the crippled, the flesh of the oppressed, the bullied, the unwanted and in the flesh of all those who are marginalized. May we humbly grow in seeing Christ enfleshed in ourselves, in all people and in all of creation.

Richard Rohr, OFM expressed this so well, “It’s a gift to joyfully recognize and accept our own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protect. Such freedom is my best description of Christian maturity, because once you know that your “I” is great and one with God, you can ironically be quite content with a small and ordinary “I.” No grandstanding is necessary. Any question of your own importance or dignity has already been resolved once and for all and forever.” (Radical Grace: Daily Meditations)

Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN Board Member

Suggested Action:
Meditate and pray this week on the status of your heart: How often do you find yourself with thoughts that are not humble?

Suggested Petitions:
Like St. Francis, may our hearts be humbled in the presence of others, who are made in Christ’s image. We pray…
May our desire for meekness overcome any societal pressure to become overbearing or tyrannical. We pray…

Prayer for Humility: Author unknown.

Lord Jesus, when you walked the earth,
Your humility obscure your Kingship.
Your meekness confused the arrogant,
Hindering them from grasping your purpose,
Your nobleness attending to the destitute.
Teach me to model after your eminence,
To subject my human nature to humility.
Grant me with a natural inclination
To never view myself greater than anyone.
Banish all lingering sparks of self-importance
That could elevate me greater than you.
Let my heart always imitate your humility.

Amen

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