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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Sunday 22nd (C) in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Sir 3:17-18.20.28-29): 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: 67
R/. 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.

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.

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.
2nd Reading (Heb 12:18-19.22-24a): 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.
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 11:29ab): Alleluia. Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 14,1.7-14): One Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and He was carefully watched. Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for He had noticed how they tried to take the places of honor. And He said, «When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you has been invited, and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you: ‘Please give this person your place’. What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat! Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you: ‘Friend, you must come up higher’. And this will be a great honor for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised».

Jesus also addressed the man who had invited him and said, «When you give a lunch or a dinner, don't invite your friends, or your brothers and relatives and wealthy neighbors. For surely they will also invite you in return and you will be repaid. When you give a feast, invite instead the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Fortunate are you then, because they can't repay you; you will be repaid at the Resurrection of the upright».

«He had noticed how they tried to take the places of honor»

Fr. Enric PRAT i Jordana (Sort, Lleida, Spain)

Today, Jesus teaches us a masterly lesson: do not choose the best seat: «When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat» (Lk 14:8). Jesus knows we like to look for the best places: in official acts, informal gatherings, at home, at the table. He knows our trend to overrate ourselves out of vanity, or worse still, out of a poorly hidden pride. So let us therefore be careful with honors, for «the heart remains chained where it finds the possibility of delight» (St. Leo the Great).

Haven't we ever been told that there were no colleagues with more merit or better personal values than us? It is not, therefore, a question of a sporadic feat, but of an assumed attitude of considering ourselves the smarter, the most important, the most deserving, the always rightful ones; an aspiration supposing a narrow vision of ourselves and of those around us. In fact, Jesus invites us to practice the perfect humility, consisting in not judging ourselves or the others, and to be conscious of our individual insignificance, in the global cosmic and of life concert.

Thus, Jesus, proposes us, by precaution, to always choose the lowest seat, because, while we may not know the intimate reality of the others, we are fully aware that in the great show of the Universe we are totally irrelevant. Therefore, to place us in the last position is to be on the safe side. Lest the Lord, that knows us well intimately, did not have to tell us: «‘Please give this person your place’. What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat!» (Lk 14:9).

In the same line of thought, the Master invites us to place ourselves with humility beside those chosen by God: the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind, and to be at the same level than them to find ourselves amidst those God loves with special tenderness, and to overcome the repugnance and shame to share with them table and friendship.