in Ordinary Time
A Homily - Cycle C - 2012-2013
by Rev. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11
Second Reading - Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a
Gospel - Luke 14:1, 7-14
Written to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
On a Sabbath, Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.
He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, 'Give your place to this man,' and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, 'My friend, move up to a higher position.' Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Then he said to the host who invited him, "When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
OK . . . Fr. Donahue is away giving the Franciscan Sisters a retreat, so you know what that means . . .
I would like to have a VOLUNTEER . . . itís Labor Day weekend, so I need someone to help me do this work of preaching . . . a younger volunteer, please!
OK! You ready? Actually your work is quite easy. Iím offering you three options, itís like a multiple-choice test, so this is good training for getting back into school. You have three seats to choose from. They have prize dollar bills on them. This bottom one has a one-dollar bill on it. This middle one has a five-dollar bill on it. And this top one has a twenty-dollar bill on it. Which seat do you want to choose?
Excellent! Now that youíve made your choice, what if I were to tell you that this twenty-dollar bill and five-dollar bill came from Fr. Dundonís wallet, but this one-dollar bill came from JESUSí wallet . . . which one would you choose? VERY good, well, Iím going to let keep Jesusí dollar, because Iíll be poor by tomorrow night if I let you keep one of the others.
But that doesnít seem quite right, does it? Fr. Dundon is giving you 20 or 5 dollars, but Jesus only gives ONE? Fr. Dundon is offering you the highest seat, but Jesus is telling us to take the LOWEST seat today? Why is that?
Our Lord is teaching upon one of the most important yet most difficult things to learn . . . the powerful truth of HUMILITY. Humility teaches us that we must aim, not high, but low. And why low? Isnít that a little contrary to every motivational speech, every graduation speech, even most homilies that youíll hear? Work hard, give it your all, stand out above the rest . . . to what end? For what reason? Well, making a difference isnít bad . . . but if weíre really honest with ourselves, if we look real deep inside our hearts, perhaps another reason is so that (quietly) others will like us . . . others will love us . . . and yes . . . so that GOD will love us.
Martha certainly thought so when Jesus came to her house. ďI need to be setting table and making dinner and getting ready,Ē she obviously thought. And true. That needed to be done. But she was perhaps thinking this TOO much. She perhaps thought that this was TOO necessary . . . so necessary that Jesusí love for her depended on this preparation.
And DID Jesusí love for her depend on her work? Not at all. We know that. But we also know that we can fall into the same trap, time after time. Unlike so many other relationships that we might have, our relationship with God does NOT demand anything from us, Godís love does NOT have a price tag. And humility helps us to finally see that.
There are three people who I think can illustrate that for us Ė our Blessed Mother Mary, St. Therese of Liseaux (the Little Flower), and Mike Hayden. Weíll start with the holiest one first. Mary accepted Godís entirely free love for her through the angel Gabriel, who blessed her with what Ė a big family, a beautiful home, and enduring reputation? Well, actually she got just one child, she got a small carpenterís home, and she lived in the no-name town of Nazareth. The Little Flower in France wanted to become a missionary for people in the farthest corners of the earth, but instead she ended up on a small Carmelite cloister, never again to leave her homeland. And Mike Hayden started out . . . as the trash collector for Fall Festival. So there you go! One-dollar bills for all . . . however, when they come from Jesusí wallet, when we realize that EVERYTHING is a gift from the Lord . . . then watch what happens. Mary now has the biggest family ever, more children than we can count, it encompasses the globe . . . her home is every corner of Heaven, and she is known through all generation. The Little Flower is now the patroness of ALL missionaries, and she is doing more amazing good things in Heaven, for us on earth. And Mike Hayden, well Ė he isnít just picking up trash anymore.
Dear Lord, teach us the beauty and the power and the JOY contained in humility, in recognizing that WE are your beloved children, that YOU give us everything we need, and YOU love us more than we could possible imagine. Psalm 131 say, ďO Lord, my heart is not proud, nor haughty my eyes. I have not gone after things too great, nor marvels beyond me. Truly I have set my soul in silence and peace. As a child has rest in his motherís arms, even so my soul.Ē Amen.