Homily (Reflection) for the Thirtieth Sunday of the Year, (C) (23rd October, 2016) on the Gospel
Eccl 35:12-14.16-19;Ps 32:2-3.17-19.23. (R. v. 7);
One man after admiring his new car parked and covered it in his car park. He did this because he judged the car too good for the road and again, he thought that nobody from their community and its’ environs could afford that in the near future. Other people were already driving even newer models of that car he parked when he brought it out. People hardly noticed it because although it was still new but it was an older model.
Topic: The problem with the self.
We do focus on external forces whereas the force challenging is within. Unless one is able to look beyond him/herself, he/she cannot see things as they are. Some see themselves as better than the rest of men and women whereas some others see nothing good in themselves. For those in both camps, there is hardly any room for improvement. They always see their ideas and ways of doing things no matter how awkward they are as the best. However, we always have reasons why we must humble ourselves because humility is the sure road to honour, cf. Prov 15:33; 18:12; 22:4; Ps 149:4, Jas 4:10.
The Pharisee in the gospel reading praised himself instead of God: “…God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income”. For him, these gave him edge over others. He did nothing other than telling God how “good” he was and needed nothing. He saw himself as one who has done all things well thereby making himself God, cf. Mk 7:37. He could see only the things which he thought he did well despite the fact that he must have rewarded himself, cf. Mt 6:2, 5, 16.
On the other hand, the tax collector who stood far off and could not look up to heaven prayed beating his breast, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” According to Barclay, this man considered himself not as a sinner but the sinner that is the worst sinner as a result of which God favoured him because of his humility and contrite of spirit, cf. Is 57:15. For us to go home justified, we must imitate the tax collector. Although all our sins are well-known to God, He wants us to acknowledge and confess them because “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1Pt 5:5).
Barclay outlined a number of problems with pride. They include that no man who is proud can pray because the gate of heaven is so low that none can enter it save upon his knees. Again, nobody who despises others can pray. We are not to lift ourselves above others. And lastly, we are called to set ourselves beside God. That is we are not called to be better than others but to be like God himself, cf. Matt 5:48. Hence Jesus said: “…unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20).
Pride blinds its victims and just as God asked Pharaoh through his servants: 'How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?” (Ex 10:3), He is asking of how long it will take us to humble ourselves before him. Because it is only the humble that can serve God and he leads them in what is right, and teaches them his way (Ps 25:9). In the Second Chronicles, God said “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2Chro 7:14; cf. Ps 18:27). In Isaiah, God desired to look upon those with humble and contrite spirit, cf. Is 66:2. He dwells “...in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Is 57:15).
It is important to always remember that “When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom” (Prov 11:2). It pays to be humble. Thus St Peter admonishes us, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you” (1Pt 5:6). It is better to fight the enemy called the self first.
Bible Reading: Is 66:1-2; Jas 4:6-10; Phil 2:1-11; 1Pt 5:1-11; Matt 6: 1-18.
Thought for today: Reconsider your relationship with God and others.
Let us pray: Lord, may we humbly accept and appreciate you and all your gifts and our fellow men and women as ourselves – Amen.
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