Homily for 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

posted Sep 2, 2016, 10:34 AM by Church Office   [ updated Sep 2, 2016, 10:34 AM by Michelle Massung ]


            When I was living in Houston, TX, my golfing partner was David Jones. We played in many golf tournaments together, and more often than not, we would win the tournament.  As time went on, and we won more and more tournaments, we became a little more confident in our ability. We started to become downright arrogant. We didn’t care who we played or how good they were, we just knew that somehow, we would beat them. We were given a nickname by other members of the club, David was cocky one and I was cocky two; or in Spanish, cocky uno and cocky dos.  My attitude of cockiness continued off the course as well and it began to be prevalent in the office where I worked and at church.  Since I was a sacristan, I started to boss people around rather than being a humble servant of the Lord. Finally, the parish had a going away party for me before I left for the seminary.  During a few of the testimonials, the people prayed that at the seminary, I would become more humble.

            Well, in the first reading from the book of Sirach and in the Gospel, we hear quite a bit about humility.  It is a virtue that we all should strive for but it is one that is often misunderstood, so let me take a minute and help to explain what humility is to me.  Humility is realizing how small we are compared to God.  It is acknowledging that all we have comes from God and what we do with our gifts and talents is our gift back to God and not for our own selfish desires or our glory.  Self-centeredness is the opposite of humility.  However, humility is not being meek and mild so that others use us or take advantage of us.  God has given all of us various talents and treasures and we are to use them for his glory and for the love of our neighbor.  I still enjoy competing on the golf course, however, I use golf in my ministry to help others grow closer to Christ and to show others that we can do things well for God’s glory and not our own.  Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. We are all called to be humble and pride is the enemy of humility. When we are prideful, we seek our own glory. 

            So what do the scriptures say about humility? Jesus first instructs us to recognize that others are more important than we are, and as a result, we should take a lower seat at banquets.  Please note that this does not apply to the banquet we are celebrating here today at the liturgy.  I did not save the front pews for more important dignitaries so those of you in the back pews please don’t try and convince me that you are more humble.  The first reading from the book of Sirach offers us the incentive to being humble.  We will be highly exalted by God and will find favor with God if we are humble.  And in the Gospel, Jesus instructs us on how to be humble.  He calls us to love others unconditionally.  This is a real challenge. We are called to love others while expecting nothing in return.  What helped me to become more humble was doing hospital ministry at a hospital in Cumberland, MD.  Each day for 10 weeks, I would go and visit patients without any hope or desire that any could repay me for my time and efforts.  This constant giving and no taking was what I needed to become more humble. What I have also learned is that humility, the ability to love unconditionally is a state of mind.  I realize my mind was being altered by the alcohol I was consuming and by stopping drinking, my mind became clearer and so did my heart.  My heart became focused on others and not myself as much as before.

            I still have a long way to go before I am described as truly being humble. So how do you develop humility in your own life? He are a few suggestions.  Start doing little things around the house or at your office or at your school that help others such as cleaning up something, by paying someone a compliment, by being a better listener, and really listening to what is being said and not with the intention that you can solve a problem, but by just being present for that person.  When I was a chaplain in the hospital, I was assessed, not by my ability to pray or by how many patients I was able to see in one day, no, I was judged primarily by how present I was to each patient.  To be present means that you leave your agenda behind and focus all your energies on their needs and concerns.  This takes unconditional love, the type of love Jesus calls us to have in today’s Gospel.  This week, try to be more present to those you come in contact with and see the difference you can make in a person’s life.  As a result, you will be highly exalted by God.