22nd Sunday of the Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Sirach 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 you 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.
2nd Reading: Hebrews 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: Luke 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 everyone 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.”
KINDNESS TO THE POOR: Human mind in most cases is economically oriented. We do things in order to get profit. We work in order to be paid. We invest in order to get a profitable return. During wedding reparations, we send invitation cards to people whom we know will not attend our function empty handed. We care for those who will give us material reward. The poor who cannot give us something in return are an eye sore. We do not invite them and we would not like to see them in our functions. Yet the poor are the “keys” to the kingdom of heaven. They do not have material goods to pay us in return, but their prayers are better good for us than material goods. By inviting and taking care of the poor, a person becomes blessed because of their inability to repay material goods for the kindness offered to them. One who is kind to the poor will be repaid by God at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:14). Inviting only the rich means being repaid here on earth. Inviting the poor means being repaid in heaven. The payment on earth lasts for a while. The payment in heaven lasts forever.
Prayer: Lord help your people to take care of all the poor in their midst.
AM I WORTHY? A baptized person who attends church services regularly might be tempted to feel that he/she is worthier before God than others. He/she might feel proud within the Christian community. He/she might feel that he/she deserves a better place before God. A person of this disposition may feel offended when his/her presence within the Christian community is not recognized. Yet the one who deserves to be recognized within the Christian community is the one who humbles himself. A humble person is the one who feels that he is nothing compared to others, and a person who cares for the others. A humble person is the one who wants to see others in a better place than him/her. He/she is that person who is ready to share what he/she has with the others without expecting anything in return from them. Such person will get a better return for his work in heaven. Such person will be exalted by God himself in heaven. Our Christian faith calls us to empty ourselves for the sake of others, in imitation of Christ. Our faith calls us to give away our possession to others. It calls us to care for others and especially those who are socially and economically disadvantaged, those who can only reward you by their prayers to God. Giving material goods to others while expecting to be given by them in return, is not an act of charity. When we give without expecting anything in return, that is charity, and we will be rewarded and exalted in heaven. That is what a true Christian should expect.