By Fr Joachim Robert
Theme: Be Humble and Caring
Our readings of today is the good reminder for all of us to look at our own lives, to look at how we engage with people and how we love people. As I mentioned earlier, today’s readings reminds us of humility, reminds us of generosity and reminds us of caring for one another.
As I was sitting with this text of scripture, one of the things that came to mind was when I go to St Joseph’s home to see the children there, there were so many children who come wanting to share with whoever goes there their lives. They want some part of you, some attention from you and you need to be present and to make them feel heard, you need to make them to be interested in their life.
And as I was sitting with that text and that experience, it made me realise as well in our own journey of life, our own behaviour towards people, our own behaviour towards one another. We have this tendency to assert our influence, to assert our superiority, to assert our views and ideas towards one another. And I think that is good in one way. But the focus, dear friends, is to ask ourselves whether that self assertion, the self superiority, is it focused on self? Or is it focused on building a community, building what God has placed in our hearts, the goodness that God has placed in our hearts.
And I am sure, dear friends, each one of us would behave differently with different circumstances and with different areas of what we are confronted with. But we need to be reminded that when we put the focus on ourselves, when we put the focus on what we want rather than what is good for the common good of the community, we know that it can harm families, it can harm church communities, it can harm a sense of belonging in everything that we are placed in.
So our behaviour, if it is focused on ourselves, then we know that that is an opportunity for us to grow, for us to mature, to change our ways so that goodness in our hearts may flourish.
And as we look at today’s Gospel Reading, it says:-
On the Sabbath day, Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees. And they, the Pharisees watched him closely.
So as you look at this parable, dear friends, the first two lines of today’s parable:-
It was a Sabbath day. Jesus goes to meal with the people whom he is not so friendly with, or maybe they are not so friendly to him, but he goes and meets them.
He goes to have a meal with them and as he has his meal with them, they watched him. And you see the context of today’s reading. Even though Jesus knew what their behaviour was, what the intention was, as much as they were watching Jesus, Jesus too was watching what is the intentions of their hearts.
And we influence one another, when we relate and share, we dialogue with one another, when that intention is pure, motivated by love, we can sense a sense of goodness that comes from that relationship. On the other hand, when we have not so good intentions, that also can be felt.
And if we place ourselves in that situation, dear friends, Jesus was a little bit restless, in the same way when we are treated hospitably, or when we are treated with some form of rejection. In the same way we are called to re-examine ourselves and see what are the experiences of our lives so that we can know and respond accordingly.
And Jesus felt this leading Pharisees and as they were coming to fill the seats of honour, Jesus felt that something was not so right. And he responds to them. He goes to eat with them so as not to reject them, not to ridicule them but to ensure that they are able to grow and understand what God has placed in their hearts.
The Pharisees and the Scribes knew the law. They possibly were fishing for information from Jesus, possibly listening to the gossips that were around them and they were idolising this aspect of superiority. And as we look at that, dear friends, how many of us engage in such a relationship? How many of us engage in such forms of false ideologies or false culture where we are called to step on each other before we draw closer to God?
And sometimes it also can come with false humility as well.
And as we look at Jesus, dear friends, he gives them two parables. The first is when he addresses the one who is invited. He says when those who are invited, when he was seeing them going up and filling up the places of honour, the response that Jesus had for them was total opposite. He says:-
Go and fill the lowest place first so that people are able to move you up.
With that dignity, because when you take a back seat, when you allow others to grow, when you allow others to step forward and flourish, you are indeed doing them a favour. And with generosity of heart or the humility of heart to acknowledge that people are often more important than us needs to be reminded. And this is what Jesus was possibly addressing to the Scribes and the Pharisees because they were so full of themselves and for them, he said allow others to rise up, allow others to look at the goodness of their heart before taking places of honour.
And the second thing, the second parable that Jesus teaches us is his address to the one who invites people to the wedding banquet. And here too the method of selecting those who are invited is important. Because very often when we invite people to our own functions, to our own inner circle, we always want to invite people who have the similar mindset like we do.
But Jesus gives us a total opposite altogether. He asked us to use the logic of the Father, to go out to the blind, to the lame, those who cannot pay you back and He asks us to invite them into our meals and our wedding banquet. Because, dear friends, when we do that, we express that generosity of heart.
In these two sandwich parables, dear friends, we see one is the aspect of humility where Jesus asks us to humble ourselves so that others, the goodness of others may rise up. The second thing is to have that generosity of heart in order to look for kingdom values, to look at kingdom values of Jesus, to look at the values of the Gospel, to lead people and to do the best that we can because God has been good to us, we express that love and mercy towards one another.
And for that we need a generosity of heart.
And we express humility, when we express generosity, we indeed enter into this time of caring for one another. And as we care for one another, dear friends, we do certain things not because what we want, because what God wants. Because when we do what we want, we have certain expectation of ourselves. We have certain expectation of one another. For the Lord’s expectation of us is simple:-
to be humble before Him, to be generous before Him and to allow Him to love us.
So today as we celebrate the Eucharist, dear friends, let us pray for the grace to be humble before God, to be generous before God, in the same way that He has been generous towards one another. We ask the Lord to give us the grace as well to move our hearts to encourage this selfless generosity of heart so that Jesus may be exulted in everything that we do.
Jesus had the best interest of the Pharisee in mind so that they may grow in their former ways of a narrow of understanding scriptures or the Jewish tradition to lead them into greater awareness of His love.
Let us pray that we may have the openness of heart to embrace what the Lord invites us to with humility and with generosity. That we are able to care for one another in the same way that He has cared for us.
Click below to listen to the homily and watch the video:-