Sunday, September 1, 2013

Gospel Reflection

September 01, 2013
Sunday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Stephen Mifsud (Mission Society of St. Paul  – Quezon City)
MSSP House Chapel / Mass for the poor)

My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God. What is too sublime for you, seek not, into things beyond your strength search not. The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs, and an attentive ear is the joy of the wise. Water quenches a flaming fire, and alms atone for sins.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11

R. (cf. 11b) God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.
The just rejoice and exult before God;
they are glad and rejoice.
Sing to God, chant praise to his name;
whose name is the LORD.
R. God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.
The father of orphans and the defender of widows
is God in his holy dwelling.
God gives a home to the forsaken;
he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.
R. God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.
A bountiful rain you showered down, O God, upon your inheritance;
you restored the land when it languished;
your flock settled in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided it for the needy.
R. God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

Brothers and sisters: You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them. No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

Gospel Lk 14:1, 7-14

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. “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 every one 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.”


Today, the main theme of the readings is humility. 
Even to say it is difficult, imagine to live it!
What is humility?

Humility springs from the realization that I am limited and needs others, I am a sinner and that God in his turn is gentle and forgiving.  And so for a humble person it is important to admit the weakness and mistakes

DANTE, one of the classic writers said that the difference between heaven and hell is not that in heaven there are good people and in hell there are the bad people, but in heaven there are sinners who admitted they committed sin while in hell there are sinners who did not admit they have sinned. 

For example our Founder (of the mssp). You know what’s his name? Padre Jose De Piro was aware of his weaknesses and sins, in fact he has once written "Jesus prefers those who wish to remain hidden. When He chose me to be one of his ministers, He found me among sinners.".”
This is humility, to recognize in front of God who I really am.  Like St. Paul who said… if there is something I am proud of is of my weakness. 

Humility is not to put down myself and my talents. It is not low self-esteem.  If a good painter says that he is not good, he will be lying… and if he puts all others down because he thinks he is the best, then he will be proud.      
So humility is when I use my talents not to please myself or to grow in fame, but to praise God with my life and talents.   To make others feel good with my actions.   So a humble person doesn’t do things to impress others or to be praised by others but does it so that God will be praised.  Understood?

Our Founder De Piro is a good example of humility and the words we heard today in the first reading really fits him: “The greater you are, the more humbly you should behave, and then you will find favour with the Lord”

In fact De Piro, although he came from a very rich family, wanted to live with the orphan children in an institute and he did not want to have a special treatment. For example, the food he ate was the same as that given to the children, his trousers under the cassock was made from the same material used for the children. He used to travel like ordinary people using public transport, and sometimes although fat, he used to walk because he would have given his money to the poor… He used to help the volunteers in fundraising activities for the poor.  You have to realize, but that he was the Dean of Cathedral, the highest position in the church after the bishop.  He was also a senator in Parliament… nevertheless although a highly esteemed monsignor, he was a very humble person.  So you see how much we can learn from humble people like De Piro.

Let me see who knows what is the opposite of humility?... Pride.
What is pride?
A proud person is one who puts himself at the center instead of God.
The more a person is self-centered, the more he rejects God.  A person who feels he is superior over others, he is the best and no one can go against his word.  The proud person is one who according to Jesus searches always the front seat so that others will praise him…

So how can I overcome pride and increase in humility?

First : have a realistic image of myself.  When I am criticized, do I always blame others or am I open to admit my weakness and try to change my attitudes and behaviors.

Second: to be humble implies love.  Love that does not wait for return.  Like the Gospel says today, to welcome and invite the poor, the outcast and foreigner.

Third: becoming more like Jesus, who was humble of heart.  Let us not forget what Christ is doing just now, today: He is humbling himself, becoming food , simple bread so that he can come in us... The great humility of Christ is an example for us to humble also ourselves to become food for others, ibig sabihin to share our life, our support, our talents with others.
How beautiful it is to befriend a humble person, how difficult it is to live with a proud person.  Hope we will strive to overcome the pride that is within each of us and become more humble people sharing our life with others. 

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