HOMILY FOR THE 22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: A RULE FOR ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD
BY: Fr. Jude Chijioke
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY AUGUST 28 2022
Sirach 3: 17-126.96.36.199; Hebrews 12.18-19.22-24; Luke 14: 1.7-14
“…, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. Jesus told a parable: When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you, he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke14).
Sisters and brothers, in our gospel passage this Sunday, Jesus is invited to a dinner. This is the very fifth time in Luke’s account that he enters one home or another for dinner, regardless of the quality of the host. He had already accepted the invitation of Matthew – Levi (5, 29), of a Pharisee (7, 36), of Martha and Mary (10, 38), of another Pharisee (11, 37); and now in chapter 14:1, at the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on a solemn dinner, with many guests. While the guests, as often happens in receptions, flock to occupy “strategic” positions, Jesus – an attentive observer and not devoid of irony – develops his “message” on humility. A message that seems to wink at an aphorism from the book of Proverbs: “Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great; for it is better to be told, ‘come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of the prince.” (25, 6-7). Jesus, however, transforms this norm into a spiritual exhortation.
He offers in this short parable a rule for entering the Kingdom of God. Personal ego and achievements, pride, self-sufficiency are among the many obstacles to this kingdom; love, humility, simplicity, respect for justice and equity are, on the other hand, ideal conditions for heaven. The fundamental rule for the heavenly banquet is humility: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” This Kingdom demands that we renounce every claim to be saved by ourselves, with our individual titles. In fact, what gets me a place in communion with God is not my justice, but his grace. It is he, then, who will tell me: “come, up here.” We, therefore, encourage ourselves with the words that Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Brothers, do nothing out of a spirit of rivalry or vainglory, but each of you in all humility, must consider others superior to yourself, without seeking your own interests but those of others” (2: 3-4). And again, in his letter to the Romans: “Have the same feelings towards one another; do not aspire to things that are too high, instead associate with the humble. Do not get a too high idea of yourself” (12:16).
There is another rule of the heavenly banquet. That enclosed in the second part of today’s gospel passage. Jesus reminds the host that inviting and helping relatives and friends is an easy and spontaneous sign of love. But an authentic man, a believer must invite “the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” to be truly “blessed”. A free, total, generous, creative, true revolutionary love, which abolishes rigid economic laws and social barriers is what Jesus continually proposes: “Loan without hoping for anything and your reward will be great … because if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what merit do you have?” (Lk 6, 34-35). Simon the Righteous, a Jewish teacher of the early Christian centuries, used to say: “The world is founded on three things: The Word of God, prayer and acts inspired by love.” Today Jesus offers us these pillars of spiritual life, divine grace, and human love, which are total and universal.