(22nd Ordinary Sunday: Sirach 3:17-29; Hebrews 12:18-24; Luke 14: 1, 7-14)
In today’s first reading we hear, “My child, conduct your affairs with humility.” In the gospel, Jesus says, “The one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
At La Salette, the Beautiful Lady asked, “Do you say your prayers well, my children?”
At first, this connection between La Salette and the readings may come as a surprise. But when you think about it, what is prayer if it does not come from a humble heart? Is there any other way to approach God? We are not the creator but the creation. If we happen to be blessed with talents or enjoy a certain prestige in our community, it is especially important for us to humble ourselves the more, as Sirach says.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor,” Jesus told his fellow guests at the pharisee’s home. This advice applies even more to prayer. When we come into God’s presence, any comparison we might make between ourselves and others is pure vanity. (Remember the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector? More on that in two months.)
When Mary was offered the honor of becoming the mother of the Messiah, she answered, in genuine humility, “I am the handmaid of the Lord.” In her prayer of praise, the Magnificat, she acknowledges that God “ has looked with favor on his lowly servant.”
When, at La Salette, Mary speaks of her own prayer, we see that she humbles herself in two different ways. First, she comes before her Son in the attitude of a beggar. Second, she identifies herself with a people of sinners, “my people,” for whom she pleads constantly.
Many of us pray with our heads bowed. Isn’t this an act of humility, submitting ourselves before our Lord and Savior?
We may find joy in our ministry of reconciliation, but there is no place here for arrogance or superiority. Yes, we have a gift to share, but we need to set ourselves aside, so that Our Lady’s message may shine forth. We never take credit for what the Lord may accomplish in answer to our humble prayer.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse