FR. GERALD MUOKA HOMILY FOR THE 22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: THE WAY UP IS DOWN
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY AUGUST 28 2022
R1 – Sir 3:17-18,20,28-29
R2 – Heb. 12:18-19,22-24
GOSPEL – Luke 14:1,7-14
A story was told about a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, there was a large gathering in the palace courtyard. Four finalists were brought forward, and from these four, the king would select the winner. The first person presented was a wealthy philanthropist. The king was told that this man was highly deserving of the honor because of his humanitarian efforts. He had given much of his wealth to the poor. The second person was a celebrated physician. The king was told that this doctor was highly deserving of the honor because he had rendered faithful and dedicated service to the sick for many years. The third person was a distinguished judge. The king was told that the judge was worthy because he was noted for his wisdom, his fairness, and his brilliant decisions. The fourth person presented was an elderly woman. Everyone was quite surprised to see her there, because her manner was quite humble, as was her dress. She hardly looked as the greatest subject in the kingdom. What chance could she possibly have, when compared to the other three, who had accomplished so much? Even so, there was something about her the look of love in her face, the understanding in her eyes, her quiet confidence. The king was intrigued, to say the least, and somewhat puzzled by her presence. He asked who she was. The answer came: “You see the philanthropist, the doctor, and the judge? Well, she was their teacher!” That woman had no wealth, no fortune, and no title, but her humble and unselfish dispositions to give her life to produce great people. She won the day by taking downward steps of humility to stardom and greatness.
Beloved in Christ, the central theme of this Sunday’s liturgy is humility. When St Augustine was asked to enlist three outstanding virtues of Christian perfection, he said: “Humility is so necessary for Christian perfection that among all the ways to reach perfection, humility is first, humility is second, and humility is third.” He added, “Humility makes men angels, and pride makes angels devils.”
The three readings of this Sunday’s liturgy, intimate us that in the Kingdom of God, the fastest way up is down; and the easiest way down is up. That is why an Igbo adage says, “Onye bulie onwe ya elu, Chi ya ebutuo ya. Mana onye butuo onwe ya, Chi ya ebulie ya elu.” Just as the scripture says, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11).
However, the poor teacher in the introit story rose to stardom and prominence in the community above the philanthropist, physician and judge, because of her simple and humble lifestyle.
In the first reading, Ben Sirach, reminds us that the surest way of finding favour before God and man, is to acquire the golden virtue of humility.
The second reading awakens our consciousness to our status as citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem; where we are all first born – a dignified state that was made possible through humility: “Christ’s humbled himself and accepted to take the human form inorder to make us coheirs as adopted sons in the Kingdom of God” (Phil 2:6-7, Gal 4:5).
In the Gospel reading, Jesus explains the practical benefits of humility, illustrated by dining etiquette. Jesus advises the guests to go to the lowest place instead of seeking places of honor, so that the host may give them the place they really deserve. This simply indicates that, “downwardness is the surest route to upwardness.
*THE WAY UP IS DOWN*
The theme of our reflection this Sunday, “The way up is down and the way down is up,” is quite paradoxical, in the sense that it becomes incomprehensible to the senses. But that is the heart of Jesus message in the Gospel reading. Little wonder,
St. Bernard declared, “Pride sends man from the highest elevation to the lowest abyss, but humility raises him from the lowest abyss to the highest elevation.”
Besides, humility comes from the Latin word ‘humus’ which means “fertile soil.” In other words, to be humble is to be ready to accept taking the downward steps and positions as Jesus explained in the wedding guest analysis. In humility, we identify with our real nature as humans, made from the soil. In humility, we recognise our talents, abilities, limitations, and weaknesses. Humility does not mean thinking less of ourselves. It means living as Jesus lived; not for ourselves, but for others; and like Christ too, “who was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. And for this God raised him high, and gave him the name which is above all other names”
(1) *HUMILITY IS GOLDEN*
Unfortunately, the root word for humility, “humus,” which means soil, makes it unattractive. No one wants to identify with the soil or soil himself, because of its dirty and filthy nature; yet everybody wants gold and diamond, but not soil. But where do gold and diamonds come from? What about the fruit-bearing trees and magnificent buildings? All are soil-structured and oriented. So, in order to secure the gold, we must get ready to get soiled.
(2) *HUMILITY OPENS THE DOORS OF FAVOUR*
Humility is a priceless virtue that opens every door of favour for whoever that possesses it, both before God and man. Even the devil bows and respects us for humility, because he has dispossessed himself of it and can never have access to it. St Francis De Sale remarked, “The most powerful weapon to gain favour before God and conquer the devil is humility.”
(3) *TO BE HUMBLE, WE MUST BE READY TO ACCEPT HUMILIATIONS*
Mother Teresa of Calcutta once reflected, “Learn to be humble by doing all the humble work and doing it for Jesus. You cannot learn humility from books; you learn it by accepting humiliations. Humiliations are not meant to torture us; they are gifts from God. These little humiliations, if we accept them with joy, will help us to be holy, to have a meek and humble heart like Jesus.”
So, inorder to be humble, we must accept insults and injuries at times and equally accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
Finally, I would like to conclude this reflection with Mother Teresa’s Humility List for a deep introspective and personal reflection: 1. Speak as little as possible about yourself. 2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.3. Avoid curiosity.4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others. 5. Accept small irritations with good humor. 6. Do not dwell on the faults of others. 7. Accept censures even if unmerited. 8. Give in to the will of others. 9. Accept insults and injuries. 10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded. 11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone. 12. Do not seek to be admired and loved. 13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity. 14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right. 15. Choose always the more difficult task.
*PRAYER OF HUMILITY*
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus. That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. Amen.
_FR GERALD MUOKA_
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