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Theology for the common man

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time C

Sunday, September 01, 2019

"Humble yourself the more, the greater you are and you will find favor with God. The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs and an attentive ear is the joy of the wise.” When we quote today's words from the Book of Sirach at once we see the person of Jesus, who although being the Son of God, means someone who is the greatest. Jesus' own testimony showed everyone how deeply he humbled himself, becoming a man, and this is why he found favor with God. More than that, with his whole human life he showed the attitude of humility fulfilling that way the will of God. He also thought in simple ways to give his listeners the most important knowledge about the wisdom of life. And indeed, we hear him today speaking in the parable about humility. Jesus directed this parable to the religious authority of Israel, mainly to the Pharisees. He presented them the teaching about humility, although they were always waiting for him to error and lapse to have reason to accuse him. He doesn’t avoid though the meeting with them because the truth has to be exposed and true wisdom recognized. The highest or first places during banquets were always reserved for persons of rank or prestige. This is why it was always better and cautious not to sit down in the "first" places but rather to wait to be seated by the owner of the house or at least to sit down in the last row in order to be eventually noticed later and asked by the owner to move forward. Without any doubt the Pharisees did have a problem with the humility which was related with their social function. Nevertheless Jesus calls them to modesty and to each of them he recommends a humble behavior, not due to a matter of position and function that could have performed. In his calling to humility he goes even farther, to its fundaments: to the divine regard. In general he recommends who to invite at the banquets: the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, it means, to those people who would not be able to invite you back, and only God could repay their generosity. That way Jesus reproaches the Pharisees and their creation of a mutual admiration society and of not being of service to the people in need, as they are supposed to do.