"Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God” Sirach 3:18. The theme of today’s readings is the need for true humility which leads us to develop a generous heart that shares with others. The readings give a warning against all forms of pride and self-glorification. They say the virtue of humility helps us to open our minds and hearts to the needs of the people.
The first reading from the book of Sirach reminds us that if we are humble, we will find favor with God, and others will love us. The virtue of humility has two aspects: being humble before God and opening our hearts and hands to others. We read in Matthew 23:12, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” The prayer before communion should exemplify our inner mode before God, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
Ben Sira is perhaps warning his students against the perils of Greek philosophy. Greek philosophy of the day insisted on reason as the sole arbiter of truth. But Jews knew that faith had a great role as well. Catechism of the Catholic Church (159) says that faith and reason compliment each other and work in tandem.
In the Gospel, Jesus talks about a wedding banquet: "When you go to a banquet" and "When you give a banquet." Jesus offered a lesson on humility and charitable generosity without seeking neither honor nor reward. C.S Lewis writes, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Jesus instructs us to sit in the lowest place – a lesson of humility – greatness measured by the concern for the other. We read in James 4:6, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1Peter 5:6 says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
“When you hold a banquet, don’t invite friends or relatives or wealthy neighbors, …Rather invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, who are unable to repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:14). Matthew 10:42 says, “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” God will look favorably on works of mercy at the judgment. John 5:28&29 says, “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voices and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.”
The second reading from the Hebrews compared the two covenants of Moses and of Christ. This passage gives us the image of the heavenly liturgy. In contrast to the theophanies of God at Mount Sinai that so terrified Israelites, the new covenant, the heavenly liturgy is one of celebration and unity. Our weekly participation in the Mass is so vital to our spiritual lives. Abel’s murder put Cain in danger of death by retaliation (Genesis 4:8-9), but the death of Christ brings in the forgiveness of sins and salvation.
We bring each one of us with our blessings and needs, strength and weakness to the celebration of Mass and ask God to bless us and give us nourishment so we can grow in our relationship with him by doing the works of mercy.