BY: Fr. Justin Nzekwe



God’s understanding of reward is different from human understanding. Human beings prefer to make financial investment and social investment only where they will get their immediate reward. We are guided by a perception of reward that begins in this world and ends in this world. We associate ourselves only with people who belong to our social class, and we neglect others as less important to us. We limit our celebrations to our small cliques who will also invite us during their own celebrations, and by doing so, we get back our reward from them. Jesus in the gospel reading of today advises us saying: “When you offer a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, because they in turn will not invite you too and you have the exchange. On the contrary, when you offer a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and you will be blessed because they have nothing to repay you. In fact, you will receive your reward at the resurrection of the just.” God is not interested in human act of giving which is filled with greed, selfishness, and the desire to exploit others. He is interested on how our gifts can benefit us in heaven since every reward in this world is temporal, and does not last. We need to be humble enough to understand the power of giving to the poor, the less privilege and those who might not be able to repay us in this world.

Jesus also taught us another important lesson in the gospel reading of today. He warns us about the dangers of pride. Pride is the greatest obstacle to the growth of our spiritual life. The path of pride is the path of destruction. Angel Lucifer was sent out of heaven because of pride. There are three different kinds of pride: Firstly, the material pride: they are those people who boast of their material possessions and riches. Second, the intellectual pride: they are those who brag about their talents and intelligence. And the worst of all, spiritual pride: they are the self-righteousness people who think they are holier than everyone, and they hardly examine their consciences. The only way to overcome pride is by imbibing the virtue of humility. When we humble ourselves, God will exalt us. The first reading of today reminds us that, “Many are the proud and proud men, but God reveals his secrets to the meek. For great is the power of the Lord, and by the humble he is glorified.” With humility, we can conquer our pride. For, ‘humility is the mother of all virtues while pride is an incurable malady’. The humble person is a person who does not think he is more important than others. He is someone who is kind to everyone, and does not intimidate others. A humble person takes the last seat when he is invited to an occasion, without feeling being insulted by anyone. The Path of humility is the most efficient way to receive honour both from God and from our fellow human beings. God humbled Himself by becoming man like us in all things except sin. We must also be humble as followers of Christ, in order to overcome the sin of pride, understand the secrets of God and also avoid eternal punishment. Mary is a model of humility. Her humility made her to empty herself of selfishness and egotism, and enabled her to receive the greatest gift as the Mother of God. If we imitate Mary’s humility, the devil will be afraid of us and God will come to reside in our humble heart.

We pray in this holy mass that through the intercession of Our Mother Mary, we may humble ourselves before God, so that God will exalt us on the last day in heaven.

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