22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
It is hard to believe that it is now 50 years from Martin Luther King’s great and inspirational I HAVE A DREAM SPEECH in Washington. While celebrating this anniversary I think we all should be mindful of the situation in Syria and the middle East in General. We also need to continue our prayers for peaceful outcomes in all the various places where there are wars or violence of whatever sort throughout the world.
The readings for this Sunday are all about humility, a virtue that doesn’t seem to be valued that much in our world. These days, it’s about how many “friends” we have on Facebook, how many followers we have on Twitter. But we can still immediately pick up on someone whose humility is done for show, whose humbleness is not the real thing and there are so many people like this around and about. Humility is about: being real, being grounded. Accepting and sharing our gifts without fanfare; acknowledging and accepting our faults without undue self-recrimination. Knowing we are no better or worse than any other of God’s children. If we live a virtually unrecognized life of goodness and quiet service, sooner or later someone will praise us in some way. Once again, it is fitting that we be thankful to God for all the things that come to us and humbly acknowledge that we were using God’s gift to us for the good of all.
It is his grace that has produced the right attitude within us to live in such a humble way. To me, generosity involves the giving of one’s time, talent, or treasure for the common good without thought of personal recompense and without thought of scrutinizing the recipients. Many people do this quite effectively and seem to match Jesus’s expectation perfectly. Some people, however, widen their giving to include the less fortunate but maintain a slight level of superiority to the recipients which is not right. Jesus’s message in this Gospel Reading was unconditional giving of oneself and one’s resources and it needs to be done willingly and even lavishly according to Jesus’s direction rather than to further one’s own motives as those who were seeking the best seats were doing. Being humble is not something we do, instead It is something we are, something we learn through living fully with our successes and our failures, and never forgetting our dependence on God. Humility is a cornerstone of Pope Francis, along with compassion and mercy. And as St. Augustine once said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues; hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” Without humility, our compassion is meager; our mercy, condescending.
Real humility takes awareness and acceptance of our real selves which is why it is so hard for us to achieve. May we be the Humble people that we are called to be in the Gospel of this Sunday accepting our real selves so that that we may use our God given gifts wisely and during the time that we have them.