Our first reading today (Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29) begins with these words: “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.“ We are asked to consider the role of humility in our lives. We are not being asked to think less of ourselves but to understand that everything we have is a gift from God. Saint Augustine had this to say about humility. “If you should ask me what are the ways of God, I would tell you that the first is humility, the second is humility, and the third is still humility. Not that there are no other precepts to give, but if humility does not precede all that we do, our efforts are fruitless. Letter 118 (A.D. 410), Augustine to Dioscorus, Chapter 3.
In today’s second reading (Hebrews 12;18-19,22-24) we first hear that God‘s presence was experienced in the vision of fire, darkness, and storm. The people were so fearful that they did not approach their God. We hear that our early Christian brothers approached Mount Zion to join God, the Angels, and Saints in festal gathering. Today we continue this journey as we prepare to receive our Lord in both the Word and the Eucharist. Here, fear and upset are transformed at Mass into peace and love in the new covenant, Jesus.
In today’s Gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14) we again hear about humility. In Jesus time to be in the place of honor was highly valued and humility was to be avoided. Here, Jesus again turns the social norms upside down. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” He then goes on to tell us not to invite our good friends and wealthy neighbors to dinner, but to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, Pope Clement I described the virtue of humility in this way: “It is to the humble that Christ belongs, not to those who exalt themselves above His flock. Our Lord Jesus Christ the Scepter of God‘s majesty, did not come in the pomp of pride or arrogance though he could have done so – but rather in humility.” (1Clem 30:8)
So as we contemplate Jesus in our scripture readings today and receive Him in the Eucharist let us put aside our pride to make some room for our humble servant, Jesus. If we do this he promises us that we will be repaid at the Resurrection of the righteous. If we don’t???