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Saturday – Thirtieth Week – OT1
Readings: Rom 11:1-2a, 11-12-, 25-29; Lk 14:1, 7-11.
Reading 1 (Rom 11:1-2a, 11-12, 25-29):
Brothers and sisters:
I ask, then, has God rejected his people?
Of course not!
For I too am a child of Israel, a descendant of Abraham,
of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
Do you not know what the Scripture says about Elijah,
how he pleads with God against Israel?
Hence I ask, did they stumble so as to fall?
Of course not!
But through their transgression
salvation has come to the Gentiles,
so as to make them jealous.
Now if their transgression is enrichment for the world,
and if their diminished number is enrichment for the Gentiles,
how much more their full number.
I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers and sisters,
so that you will not become wise in your own estimation:
a hardening has come upon Israel in part,
until the full number of the Gentiles comes in,
and thus all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
The deliverer will come out of Zion,
he will turn away godlessness from Jacob;
and this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.
In respect to the Gospel, they are enemies on your account;
but in respect to election,
they are beloved because of the patriarch.
For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
Gospel (Lk 14:1, 7-11):
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.”
I. THEME: Need to be humble on the journey of searching for the truth
Pride causes so much damages for people in their relationship to God and others. To God, pride prevents people to recognize the truth which God wants to reveal and to teach people; it also keep people from realizing their sins and asking for God’s mercy. To others, pride hinders people to learn good things from others, and irritates people when they see others’ good things which they don’t have. It also prevents people to have a true peace of mind.
Today readings want to teach people to be humble in their relationship to God and others. In the first reading, due to the pride of being God’s selected people and of having the Law, many Israelites blindly refused to accept Christ, who God sent to save the world; therefore, salvation was extended to the Gentiles. However, according to St. Paul, when the Israelites see the Gentiles are also loved and included in God’s kingdom, they will humbly repent and believe in Christ. At the end, both of them are saved. St. Paul also issued a warning to the Gentiles who arrogantly despised the Jewish unbelievers, because God will not withdraw what He has promised to them. In the Gospel, Jesus advised his disciples they should have a humble attitude in their social contact with others; for example, they should choose the lowest seat in meeting or in wedding to avoid the shame of taking others’ seat.
1/ Reading I: God’s plan of salvation
1.1/ God’s plan of salvation is opened to the Gentiles: St. Paul felt painful and shameful because of the Israelites’ rejection of Christ and of their roles in his death. He would like to find out why these things happened.
When he looked back to the Jewish history, many times God let foreign armies to punish the Israelites because of their stubborn of hearts and their refuse to repent from sins. But when they recognized their sins and repented, God set them free from their enemies and helped them to rebuild their Temple and nation. The same thing might happen in the case of their stubborn rejection of Christ. God opens the Gentiles’ heart so that they believe in Christ and receive God’s love and salvation. When the Israelites realized they arrogantly refused salvation through Christ, they will be awaken and humbly believe in Christ to fulfill nicely God’s salvation plan. So, all what have happened are in God’s providence.
1.2/ God uses the Gentiles to purify the Israelites: In God’s providence, He arranged so that all that happened are for human benefits; He even uses human bad habits and sins to converse them to better persons. St. Paul illustrated an example: “Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in.”
God uses the hardness of many Jews to extend His salvation to the Gentiles; and when the Jews see the Gentiles whom are loved and gathered in by God, they will repent and believe in Christ. St. Paul said: “I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in,and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”” In this purified progress, whoever is so proud of his own thinking will be destroyed; but whoever is humble to recognize the truth, will inherit God’s salvation through Christ.
St. Paul carefully warned those who scornfully despised the Jews, because they were selected by a covenant with their forefathers. When God called and promised, He never changes His mind.
2/ Gospel: “Who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
2.1/ Men love vainglory and high places: Jesus gave a popular example to teach people to be humble is to occupy a higher place in a wedding. Jewish ancient custom is different with our today society in which the host arranged the guests’ seats and had people to lead guests to their seats. At Jesus’ time, guests chose their own seats depending on their judgings.
The only one who knows the arrangement of seats is the host, guests don’t know who were invited and their relationships with the host. This is why Jesus advised his disciples: “When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him;and he who invited you both will come and say to you, `Give place to this man,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, `Friend, go up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.”
2.2/ God loves the lowly: As the verse of the Magnificat states: “God has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree” (Lk 1:52); Jesus also declared many times in the Gospel: “Who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” How could people learn the lesson of humility? The most efficient way is to learn the truth about God, others, and oneself.
(1) To know God: All things we are possessing belong to God; nothing belong to us. If everythings are of God, why could we be proud of ourselves? Our life is also belonged to Him; when it is time to die, we cannot say “no” to Him.
(2) To know oneself: Our knowledge is so limitted comparing to vast knowledge of humankind, and whatever we accomplished is so small comparing to so many important works of others.
(3) To know others: Many of great men and women lived a humble life. The Blessed Mary, even is the Mother of God, acknowleded that she was only God’s maidservant; she was praised by generation after generation as the most Blessed One, was only because of God’s grace. St. Thomas Aquinas, the author of the great work, Summa Theologiae, denied to continue to write. The reason, as he confessed, is that whatever he has written about, are straws comparing to God’s truth. If these great people are such humble, what do we have to be bragged about?
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– The most effective way in dealing with others is to choose the lowest place. When we chose that place, we will not be shameful or fighting with anyone; therefore we have a peace of mind.
– To be truly humble, we need to learn the truth about God, others and ourselves. Once we know these truth, we know how to behave properly to God and to others.