Written Homilies – Fr. George: Whoever Exalts Himself …

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

2 October 2011

For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” Lk. 14:11

In today’s liturgy, we are given passages which celebrate the incredible riches of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the Epistle (Ephesians 3:13-21), St. Paul, although he is in chains in Rome, celebrates “the unfathomable riches of Christ.” Eph. 3:8 Today’s Gospel ( Luke 14:1-11), we see the miraculous power of Jesus in curing the man with dropsy and his divine wisdom in counteracting the pride of the Pharisees with the “Parable of Choosing the Lowest Place at Table.” Only divine wisdom could have challenged the Pharisees in their custom of choosing the first place for themselves at banquets. By telling them to humble themselves and pick the lowest place at table, Jesus rebukes them for their pride in attacking Him for curing the man of dropsy on the Sabbath. He also reveals their own covetousness for honours and esteem before men. In teaching them of the need for humility, Jesus is revealing the importance of humility in order to enter the heavenly kingdom He has prepared for them. Earlier, in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul had extolled this wonderful plan of God for all mankind: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing on high in Christ. Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blemish in his sight in love.” Eph. 1: 3-4 In today’s Epistle, St. Paul praises the blessed calling of all Christians: “…and to have Christ dwelling through faith in your hearts: so that being rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, in order that you may be filled unto all fullness of God.” Eph. 3: 17-19

The Mystery of Christ Dwelling in Man

Dom Prosper Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical Life Vol. 11 comments on the plenitude of God which is given to the soul who believes in Jesus Christ. “For, God alone, as he tells us in the music we have just heard, can strengthen in us the inward man enough to make us understand, as the saints do, the dimensions (‘breadth, length, height and depth’) of the great mystery of Christ ‘dwelling’ in man, and ‘dwelling’ in him for the purpose of ‘filling him with the plenitude of God.’ Therefore is it, that falling on his knees before him from whom flows every perfect gift, and who has begotten us in truth by his love (cf. Jas. 1:17-8), our apostle (Paul) asks God to open, by faith and charity, the eyes of our heart, that we may be able to understand the splendid riches of the inheritance He reserves to His children, and the exceeding greatness of the divine power used in our favour, even in this life.” Gueranger, p. 359 The Holy Spirit opens to us the riches of God’s grace for those who will penetrate the mystery of the predestination to holiness in love for all those who will be “the praise of the glory of his grace.” (Eph. 1:6) Dom Gueranger comments on this high calling of the followers of Christ: “It is there that divine Wisdom reveals to the perfect that great secret of love, which is not known by the wise and the princes of this world—secret which the eye had not before seen, nor the ear heard, nor the heart even suspected as possible (cf. I Cor. 2: 6-9) …The world was not as yet existing (“before the foundation of the world” Eph. 1: 4), and already God saw us in His Word (Christ) (cf. Eph. 1:4); to each one among us, He assigned the place he was to hold in the body of His Christ (cf. I Cor. 12:12-31; Eph. 4:12-16)), already, His fatherly eye beheld us clad with that grace (cf. Eph. 1:6) which made Him well-pleased with the Man-God; and He predestinated us (cf. Eph. 1:4-5), as being members of this His beloved Son, to sit with Him, on His right hand, in the highest heavens.. It is from the voluntary and culpable death of sin (cf. Eph. 2:1-5) that he calls us to that life which is His own life… Let us then be holy for the sake of giving praise to the glory of such grace (cf. Eph. 1: 4, 6) …Thus, too, is to be wrought that mystery which, from all eternity, was the object of God’s eternal designs: the mystery, that is, of divine union, realized by our Lord Jesus uniting, in His own Person, in infinite love, both earth and heaven.” Gueranger, p. 361-2 Oh, how exalted is the calling of men to be Sons of God and “the praise of His glory” in heaven for all eternity.

The Heavenly Marriage Banquet

In a veiled way, the essential message of today’s Gospel is the practical fulfilment of what St. Paul is speaking about in today’s Epistle the predestination of the elect to the heavenly marriage banquet. Dom Gueranger comments on this calling: “The wedding spoken of in today’s Gospel is that of heaven, of which there is a prelude given here below, by the union effected in the sacred banquet of Holy Communion. The divine invitation is made to all; and the invitation is not like that which is given on the occasion of earthly weddings, to which the bridegroom and bride invite their friends and relatives as simple witnesses to the union contracted between two individuals. In the Gospel wedding, Christ is the Bridegroom, and the Church is the bride (cf. Apoc. 19:7)…. But, for the attainment of all this—that is, that our Lord Jesus Christ may have that full control over the soul and its powers which makes her to be truly His, and subjects her to Him as the bride to her Spouse (cf. I Cor. 11:8-10) – it is necessary that all alien competition be entirely and definitively put aside.” Gueranger, p. 365.

Loss of Spiritual Ardour

In today’s Gospel, we see how Jesus stresses the importance of seeking God alone and not the honours of men in order to attain divine union. In a dramatic manner, as the Pharisees watch Him to see if He will break the Sabbath by curing the man with dropsy, Jesus not only cures the man with dropsy, but He reveals the serious sickness in the souls of the Pharisees. According to Dom Gueranger, quoting St. Ambrose, the man with dropsy represents “a morbid exuberance of humours, which stupefy the soul, and induce total extinction of spiritual ardour.” Gueranger, p. 367-6 Ven. Bede also shows that this loss of spiritual ardour is caused by lustful desires: “The dropsical man represents one who is weighed down by an overflowing stream of carnal pleasures, for it is a sickness named after the watery humour. But specifically the dropsical man is the covetous rich man who, the more he abounds in riches, the more ardently desires them, says St. Augustine.” The Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide, p. 540 Jesus cures the dropsical man of his covetousness for this world’s goods so that he can seek the riches of God. In reading the minds of the Pharisees, He also shows how His cure is just exactly what everyone else would do: “Which of you shall have an ass or a an ox fall into a pit, and will not immediately draw him up on the Sabbath.” Lk. 14: 5. The pride of the Pharisees has blinded them so that they condemn Jesus for delivering a man from sickness, even though they themselves would do the same for one of their own animals

…he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Lk. 14:11

Dom Gueranger commenting on the evil attitude of the Pharisees tells us of the importance of humility if we are going to be accepted in the heavenly feast as Christ’s bride: “But, as above all, it is to the constant attitude of humility that he must especially direct his attention who would secure a prominent place in the divine feast of the nuptials.” Gueranger, p. 366 Jesus had spoken the “Parable of the First Seats at Table” to show that the Pharisees are ambitious and proud to presume to take the first places at a wedding banquet.“Now Christ demonstrates how unbecoming it is to vie for the first seat at table, and thereby he silently demonstrates, by way of analogy, how unbecoming ambition is in any matter whatsoever. For sin continues to be sin, although the matter may differ from one case to the next.” A Lapide, p. 341-2. Although Jesus is commenting on the ambition of seeking the first place, He is primarily teaching us all that the only way to the heavenly banquet table is one of humility. “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” Lk. 14:11 Those who wrongfully desire the praise of men will not be worthy to enter the heavenly banquet as brides of Christ.

Could you not, then, watch one hour with Me?…” Mt. 26:40

….  Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organise periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part…” (#14) Pope Benedict XVI, “Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland.” 3 March 2010 We are now in our second year of adoration (as of 4 July 2011). . Please sign up as an adorer.

The Five First Saturdays

By 1925 Lucia, who was now 18, had become a postulant with the Sisters of St Dorothy at Pontevedra in Spain, and on Thursday 10 December, the Blessed Virgin, accompanied by the Child Jesus on a little cloud, appeared to her in her cell. Then Mary said: “My daughter, look at My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console me, and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months go to confession and receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”

 

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