22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

First 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.

Second 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.

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.”

In other words 

Fr. Dante Salces-Barril, SVD (Rome)

We all love gatherings. Tagalogs call it “salu-salo;” Filipinos in Rome use the term “ihaw-ihaw”quite often. Where I grew up, the expression “pakals” is playfully employed. All these signify what the Gospel calls a “banquet;” a gathering, a communion where everyone feels at home.

In the Gospel, Jesus identifies what could turn a banquet of communion into a banquet of division and even competition. Pride. Pride drives one to sit at the place of honor at all cost. It is pride that causes the identification and gradation of seats from the most honorable to the least. Pride at times is the motivation behind our invitations. We hunger for an audience, for a round of applause. So, we gather people so that in front of them we can have our fancy exhibitions. But the seed of pride we sow bears fruits of pride so that those we reduced as audience in our exhibitions will in time strike back to do unto us what we have done unto them.

I attended a reunion once. And I remember how it was emphasized that this and that batch was a great pride of the school because it has doctors, another has engineers and politicians, and so on. I still recall how my batch walked high and mighty because we have a priest—me! The entire thing felt like a contest. Yet, a “Jesus-style reunion” would be vastly different. The light will shine not on doctors, engineers, and priests, but the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. It will not be a pageant but a procession; a show, not of force but of humility.

Our celebration today is called eucharistia, meaning thanksgiving. So, I invite you to take a moment to thank God for the people who have taught you humility, like Sirach in the first reading who teaches, “My child, conduct your affairs with humility…” Remember your life’s Sirach and pray for them.

The eucharistia is also missa, hence mission. The second reading, the letter to the Hebrews, reminds us how God is approachable in Jesus. He who is Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Our mission is not to be unreachable stars but salt and light of the world—agents of communion, of a banquet where everyone feels at home.

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