The Humble Path to Exaltation with Jesus, 30th Saturday (I), October 31, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Saturday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass of Mary, Queen and Mother of Mercy
October 31, 2015
Rom 11:1-2.11-12.25-29, Ps 84, Lk 14:1.7-11

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Tomorrow we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, but the greatest way for us to mark this beautiful liturgical feast is to grasp that in future generations others are supposed to remember us on November 1st. And the Lord calls us to be saints today shows us the path to eternal exaltation. He does it by means of a parable on humility. In this world we seek to be noticed, to be esteemed, to be exalted. Jesus says that if we wish to get to the eternal wedding banquet, we need to take the last place on the banquet on earth, so that the “host” God comes to us, he will say, “My friend, come up higher!” Ascende superius! The way to be exalted at Jesus’ right side is to humble ourselves here on earth as he humbled himself for us before telling us to follow him.
  • St. Therese used to teach that the way to grow in the spiritual life is by subtraction, not addition; it’s not to climb a high mountain, but to go down into the valley of humility before God and others. St. Bernard used to teach that the three most important virtues are humility, humility and humility. Our Lady echoes in her Magnificat that her soul was proclaiming the Lord’s greatest and her spirit rejoicing in God her savior “for he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.” Later she said this was God’s great plan for everyone: “He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.” As we prepare for All Saints Day in this Year of Consecrated Life, it’s so important for us to ponder the humility that led to their sanctification, glory and exaltation.
  • We, like the saints, are called to be humble in prayer before God, recognizing his majesty and never forgetting for that reason why we are so lucky to be able to pray at all, that someone far greater than the greatest rulers who have ever lived gives us his full attention. We’re also supposed to be humble through our prayer of contrition, our prayer of thanks and praise, and our prayer of intercession for others’ needs before even our own. We like the saints are called to be humble in our service of others, fighting for the towel rather than for choice seats, seeking like Jesus to become great through service all of the rest. We like the saints are called to be humble before our own weaknesses, failures, struggles. Because God cares so much about our holiness, he will give us so many opportunities to grow in humility.
  • Like many of you, I pray Cardinal Merry del Val’s Litany of Humility, which is one of the boldest prayers ever written, and it was composed by someone who was Cardinal Secretary of State at 38 (for St. Pius X) and considered a favorite for the papacy because of his prominence. It would have been easy for him to become vain, to seek to have others kiss the back of his cassock, to seek to rule over others. It would have been easy for him to fight back when he had setbacks. Instead he wrote the Litany of Humility, asking God to give him the grace to deliver him from the desire of being esteemed, loved, extolled, honored, praised, preferred, consulted, and approved and from the fear of being humiliated, rebuked, calumniated, forgotten, ridiculed, wronged and suspected. He begged the Lord that others might be more loved, esteemed, chosen, praised, and preferred to him, that others might increase and he decrease, even that others might become holier provided that he become as holy as he should. This Litany of Humility is a Litany of the Saints, insofar as it is in the saints that we fight this prayer answered and lived.
  • St. Paul was one who became truly holy because of his humility. At first he was as strong personality who would tell people off to their face. He was filled with learning, one of the best students of the Great Rabbi Gamaliel, someone who had received big commissions at a young age to try to destroy the Church. But the Lord converted him. He allowed himself to be led and baptized. He disappeared into the desert for 14 years to pray and learn anew. Because others didn’t trust his conversion, he returned to making tents. Eventually after Barnabas came to get him, he eventually poured himself out like a libation for the sake of others, seeking to become all things to all people so as to save some. He had a humiliating “thorn” in his flesh, whatever that was, but it was through bearing it that he learned that God’s grace was sufficient for him. He proclaimed that God called nobodies, the humble of the world, to shame those who thought they were somebodies. And he grasped that it was truly when he was weak that he was strong, because then God’s power was able to work through him with no resistance. He calls us to have in us the “same mind that was in Christ Jesus” who “Though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance,  he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.  Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
  • In today’s first reading we see one aspect of the way he had put on the mind of Christ and was following him down the road of humility. Chapters 9-11 of the Letter to the Romans are all about the salvation of the Jews and, as we heard yesterday, Paul was willing to be cut off from Christ if by doing so he could save his fellow Jews, some of whom were plotting to kill him. He saw his whole life as an offering for their salvation. He said God’s plan was to subject everyone to disobedience so that he could have mercy toward all: first the disobedience of so many Jews so that the Gospel could be taken to the Gentiles and then, through the humble example of the love of Christians fulfilling the Covenants God had begun with the Jews, through Christian lowly service like Paul’s service, the Jews might be humbled from seeking salvation through their works to accept the fullness of revelation and come to salvation with the Gentiles. God indeed humbled himself in this way and Paul was following Christ down that road of rejection, receiving it in such a way that it might be salvific and bring others through humility toward holiness.
  • Today at this Mass, as we prepare to receive the food that makes saints, we ask the Lord to help us to enter into communion with his humility. What he does in the Eucharist is something far humbler even than the incarnation: the eternal Son of God, the King of Kings, hides himself behind the appearance of Bread and Wine in order that we might eat him without being grossed out — and then he tells us “Do this in memory of me!” May we receive Humility Incarnate with faith and learn from Jesus’ self-abasement the path to eternal exaltation with Mary and all the Saints at his glorious scarred right!

The readings for today’s Mass were:

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.

Responsorial Psalm PS 94:12-13A, 14-15, 17-18

R. (14a) The Lord will not abandon his people.
Blessed the man whom you instruct, O LORD,
whom by your law you teach,
Giving him rest from evil days.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
For the LORD will not cast off his people,
nor abandon his inheritance;
But judgment shall again be with justice,
and all the upright of heart shall follow it.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
Were not the LORD my help,
my soul would soon dwell in the silent grave.
When I say, “My foot is slipping,”
your mercy, O LORD, sustains me.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.

Alleluia MT 11:29AB

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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.”
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