Summary: Avoid hubris, embrace humility, like Jesus and Mary.

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22nd Sunday in Course 2013

The Greater You Are, the More You Must Humble Yourself

“Blazing fire, wind, darkness, gloom, the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers entreat that no further messages be spoken.” The God behind these signs, the God revealed in both Testaments is the kindliest, meekest, most loving Being in the universe, our Lord and God, manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the mediator of a New Covenant, a New Law, because His is the blood shed on Calvary, and His precious, Risen Body and Blood are the sacrificial meal we share–the sacrifice that brings us together as One Body. Jesus tells us not to fear, a command that appears more frequently in the Scriptures than any other. But he also advises us to be meek and wise, and makes a very valuable suggestion about the way we live day today.

Let’s picture the scene in the Gospel. Jesus is eating with Pharisees. That’s an important detail, because Pharisees were called the “separated ones.” They were the Jewish upper-crust, men who kept the Mosaic Law down to the smallest detail, and men who looked down at the common folk as being uneducated in the Law and unworthy even to eat with. So Jesus is being scrutinized by these people–He preaches that the kingdom is coming, and that until then His disciples are to keep the Law scrupulously. But is this upstart from Galilee worthy? And, if He isn’t, can they find ways to discredit Him with the people?

Jesus, as usual, refuses to play games. He is training His disciples–that means all of us–for the kingdom, which He constantly pictures as a wedding feast. The Pharisees were all about status. Indeed, they were the original masters of a great self-image. Remember how the Pharisee prayed in the Temple? He kept reminding God of how he kept the Law, how he tithed, and how much better he was than the tax-collector in the cheap seats.

The disciple of Jesus Christ knows that his place is in the cheap seats. We are all like the publican. In fact, we come to Mass every week, to this re-presentation of the heavenly wedding banquet in eternity, and about the first thing we do is imitate the tax-collector. We beat our breasts and say three times that we are sinners, and we don’t blame our sins on anybody else. I tell God and everyone here that my failings are done through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. And I ask all the folks at the real wedding banquet of heaven, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul and all the saints–to pray for me to the Lord. It’s something they are overjoyed to do. There’s more: forgiveness is something that the Lord is happy to give, as long as we are truly sorry and have really want to stop sinning.

When we have allowed the Holy Spirit, through our admission of weakness and sinfulness, to carve a hole in our calloused heart, He can pour His graces into that heart. He can infuse in our hearts or strengthen the Christ-like virtues of faith, hope and charity. He can pour into us prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, which are virtues Jesus exercised every day. He can make us worthy of advancing higher in the wedding banquet, by taking on more responsibilities to serve.

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