Homily for the twenty-second Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 14:1,7-14


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"One sabbath when Jesus went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him. Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 'When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, "Give place to this man," and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, "Friend, go up higher"; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'


"He said also to the man who had invited him, 'When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.' "





Homily:


"One sabbath when Jesus went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him."


On the Sabbath, Jesus went to eat at the home of one of the Pharisees who lived in that place where Jesus was proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Naturally, people watched him, especially the doctors of the Law, the religious teachers of the time. For Jesus had been in the habit of healing people on the Sabbath, which was something the doctors and the scribes could not tolerate. And, indeed, on that day Jesus healed a sick man, a man who had dropsy. This is described in a part of the Gospel we do not read today, but it is good to mention it in order to provide the context for this account.


They observed Jesus, who had come to heal souls and bodies! For they wanted to know whether or not he would respect the Sabbath rest... But what can or cannot be done on the Sabbath day is not something that is to be decided by men, but rather by God, and God alone! For the Sabbath rest, which became the Sunday rest, was something that God himself established forever, since it is written: "And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation." (Gn. 2:2-3)


What must one do on Sunday? What may one do on Sunday? The answer is simple: everything that renders glory to God for having made his creation! Thus, when Jesus heals a sick man on the Sabbath, he renders glory to God his Father by returning to this creature his lost health, a health that is very precious, for it makes it possible for man to praise God for what he is, above all: the Master of the Universe! God is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and it is to him alone that all the creatures of heaven and earth must render homage, glory, honor, power and sovereignty!


"Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 'When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, "Give place to this man," and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, "Friend, go up higher"; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.' "


For Jesus, and for we who follow him, the feast mentioned here is, first of all, an image of the celestial banquet in which all the elect of God are invited to take part, in eternal happiness. But, secondly, it is a lesson concerning the attitude that we Christians must have as we live our lives in the world around us. This attitude must be one of humility and of renouncement of honors: "When you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place." For, if we wish to be with God in Heaven, and thus in the highest place, then we must choose the lowest place here on earth: "For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."


But let us not forget: we are being watched, just as Jesus was! The majority of people, upon seeing a Christian choose the lowest place, will react by saying: "He is insane! This will gain him nothing!" Those who, on the contrary, are seized by the Spirit of God, will say of him: "Here is a wise and sensible man!" Or simply: "Perhaps it is indeed he who is right..." We are all called to witness to our faith in Jesus the Son of God: this witness may seem insignificant to our eyes, like a mere drop of water in the ocean. However, the Holy Spirit is there, throughout the world, to draw from this drop of water a torrent of graces for the conversion of the entire world!


"He said also to the man who had invited him, 'When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.' "


God gave us everything we have. There is nothing that we possess that we have not received from him. And all that God has given us, he has given it to us freely! So how could we do otherwise? God is our model, and we must try to resemble him. So, let us do likewise, and the world will see in each one of us an image of God! Is this difficult? Perhaps... But we must try nonetheless. Let us do like the Lord: let us give freely! Today we see so many sects and gurus who lust after money, and try to get from their followers all they can! These sects dispense their doctrines in return for cash. For our part, let us freely spread the Word of God; doing so must be the first of all our charitable acts!


During this Eucharistic celebration, we will receive within us God himself! Let us already thank him for so great a benefit! Let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary that we might be true witnesses of the charity of Christ! May the Holy Spirit, through her intercession, act in us and through us, for the Glory of God and the salvation of the world!



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