Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father– the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Introductory Prayer: Jesus Christ, where else can I turn each day but to you? One day, I will make that final turn to you, and it will last for all eternity. Yet as in everything else, you set the pace, you take the initiative, and you are the protagonist. You will turn and look my way first and I, as I strive daily to do, will respond and gaze back into your eyes. This moment of prayer is a rehearsal for that final turn to you. Amen.
Petition: Lord Jesus, teach me to be humble as you were humble.
1. True Greatness: Jesus Christ, the lord of history and the world, came to show us what it means to be humble. His divinity did not keep him aloof, but rather he emptied himself, stripping himself of all glory to serve us humbly, eventually dying for us on the cross. Such humility is astonishing. Who could ever imitate such lowliness? We have trouble tolerating even minor offenses against our person or reputation. Christ voluntarily assumed our human nature and subjected himself to shame, insult and torture in order to save us.
2. Authority Not Their Own: The Pharisees were in a position of authority, having been lifted up from the mere dust from which God made them to the noble position of arbiters and interpreters of the law. For that reason, Christ tells his listeners to obey what they say – not on account of their own authority, but because of the authority given them by God. However, many of the Pharisees were more interested in the honors and privileges of their position than in being the link between souls and God. Contrast their example with the model of humility set by Christ.
3. Promise of Freedom: Christ came to earth to liberate us. He freed us from sin and death and has given meaning to human suffering. He did this not in a proud way but as a humble servant. As a lamb led to slaughter, he took upon his shoulders the punishment for our sins. Far from coming to judge us, he came to free us and let the judgment fall on himself. How does my concept of freedom mesh with that of Christ setting us free from sin? Am I convinced that the freest person in this life is the person who has strived to form virtue and thus can joyfully and easily choose to do good and not evil? Do I humbly ask Our Lord for the grace to act rightly knowing I cannot do anything good without his help?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, Jesus Christ, you chose the path of humble service to attract souls to your heavenly Father. Help me continue the work of calling souls to him. Remind me that my proud behavior can do nothing to gain these souls. Inspire me with your grace so that I may love you more than myself.
Resolution: I will refrain from boasting about my personal achievements. Instead, today I will seek to praise three other people for something they have done well.