Homily for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Homily for Sunday September 1 2019
Luke 14:1, 7-14
In the gospel passage we hear today, Jesus invites the guests at a dinner to consider the question of who is more important and what is more important. Reflecting on their presumption for places of honor at the table, Jesus invites them to consider that someone more important may come along and demand the very seat the lesser guest has already taken. Then, head hung in embarrassment, the lesser guest must move to the far end of the table. Better, Jesus advises, to take a lower place to begin with, “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
None of us, I suspect, has been spared the experience of embarrassment. Everyday life offers a multitude of opportunities for each of us to feel like a fool, to laugh at ourselves and to learn something about keeping the balance, walking the tightrope between inflated self-exaltation and shame-faced embarrassment. I remember still the story my sister, Lauri, related to me quite a few years back.
Early for a matinee movie at Crossgates Mall on a summer Saturday, Lauri and her three children strolled the length of shops, browsing in store windows while waiting for show time. Spotting the Brookstone sign above a doorway, Lauri’s attention was drawn to an assortment of ecospheres on display in the window. Sadly, it was only later at home, while reading the descriptive blurb on the Brookstone website, that she understood what it was that had caught her attention: “Ecosphere is a calming balance of earth, water, air and life, all parts of a working self-sufficient ecosystem. The delicate coexistence of animal and plant life (red shrimp, algae and microbes) thrives in the hand-blown glass sphere of seawater. Just provide sufficient light and enjoy the aesthetic blend of science and art, beauty and balance. This technology was developed by NASA scientists as part of a growing initiative to study our planet’s biosphere.”
As I said, sadly Lauri had not read this information before she picked up the ecosphere globe in Brookstone’s that Saturday afternoon. Let her Sunday morning post-event e-mail to me relate the experience in her own words.
“Since we arrived at the mall a little bit early, we purchased our movie tickets before going into Brookstone’s. Unfortunately, I can’t ever go into that store again. I was looking at a display of what I thought to be snow globes. An older woman was standing there with me reading literature on the products as I picked up one of the globes and gave it a vigorous shake. As I looked more closely at it, I realized that inside there was a live fish, a plant and stones (not snow)! I immediately put it down and said, “That wasn’t what I thought it was.” Observing what I’d done, the woman commented wryly, “It was an environment in perfect harmony until you just did that,” then she smiled condescendingly at me. I noticed that the clerks saw me shake up the globe too. I was mortified!”
I believe the older woman who witnessed my sister’s faux pas summed it up rather well when, observing the cataclysm in the shaken ecosphere, commented, “It was an environment in perfect harmony until you just did that.” Indeed, for us Christians, an environment of perfect harmony is a world marked by generous service after the example of Jesus, a world where each of us cares more for the other than for ourselves, a wedding banquet where neighborly guests laughingly vie for the last seat at the table.