Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 2, 2007 Year: C
Sir. 3:17-20, 28-9; Heb. 12:18-9, 22-24a Lk 14:1, 7-14
The meaning of true humility

First Reading...
"My child, perform your tasks with humility, then you will be loved by those whom God accepts. The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself, so you will find favour in the sight of the Lord. Many are lofty and renowned, but to the humble the Lord reveals his secrets. For great is the might of the Lord: but by the humble he is glorified.

When calamity befalls the proud, there is no healing, for an evil plant has taken root in them.

The mind of the intelligent appreciates proverbs, and an attentive ear is the desire of the wise." [Sir. 3:17-20, 28-9]

Second Reading...
"You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant." [Heb. 12:18-9, 22-24]

Gospel Reading...
"On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, the lawyers and Pharisees were watching him closely. When Jesus noticed how the guests chose the place of honour, he told them a parable.

When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invites both of you may come and say to you, 'Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.

But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Jesus said also to the Pharisee who had invited him, 'When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." [Lk. 14:1, 7-14]

Helpful Event
Once when I was travelling by bus, I happened to open a conversation with one of the travelers sitting with me. He began saying that he has very successful in business. He owned three shops, then a car; he had many servants under him. He would go shopping on Sundays and enjoy his life with his friends. Then, at one point I asked him about his children. He said that he loved his children, but did not get much time to be with them. Further a light enquiry about his life partner. “Horrible”, he said; “please do not ask about her. She is the worst woman in my life.” He told me that he had many other women who would satisfy him. I asked him, if he felt guilty about all these things. Then he said to me that he has been suffering loneliness, dejection, he has been sad and had attempted suicide twice. Then I came to know the pain of this person. On my part I tried to convince him of the importance of family than money. He agreed with me and wanted a solution. Then I suggested him that he should go out with his family some times for a picnic, then show concern towards his wife, appreciate her, do some of her work at home and then try to build up intense relationship with her. He felt relieved. He had given me his email ID. I was in touch with him. After nearly two months, he wrote me with a joyful note that he and his wife have been enjoying each other’s company. He had left all his bad habits and was giving more time to his family. I was happy to see this family situation improving.

Humility or humbleness is a quality of being courteously respectful of others. It is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness, and vanity. Rather than, "Me first," humility allows us to say, "No, you first, my friend." Humility is the quality that lets us go more than halfway to meet the needs and demands of others.

Friendships and marriages are dissolved over angry words. Resentments divide families and co-workers. Prejudice separates race from race and religion from religion. Reputations are destroyed by malicious gossip. Greed puts enmity between rich and poor. Wars are fought over arrogant assertions.

Humility as a virtue is a major theme of both the Old and New Testaments. Why do qualities such as courtesy, patience and deference have such a prominent place in the Bible? It is because a demeanor of humility is exactly what is needed to live in peace and harmony with all persons. Humility dissipates anger and heals old wounds. Humility allows us to see the dignity and worth of all God's people. Humility distinguishes the wise leader from the arrogant power-seeker.

Acting with humility does not in any way deny our own self worth. Rather, it affirms the inherent worth of all persons. Some would consider humility to be a psychological malady that interferes with "success." However, wealth, power or status gained at the expense of others brings only anxiety - never peace and love.

We should maintain an attitude of deference toward both God and other persons. Wisdom cannot be found or practiced through arrogance or anger. As servants of God, we must respect all of God's creation, including our fellow human beings.

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips (Proverbs 27:1-2)

When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom. The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the falseness of the treacherous will destroy them (Proverbs 11:2-3)

Humility means putting God and other persons ahead of our own selfish interests. Humility comes with the knowledge that God's creation as a whole transcends our own narrow interests. As with other aspects of wisdom, humility will gain us much more than we sacrifice.

Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life. (Proverbs 22:4)

"But the greatest among you shall be your servant. "And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12)

And [Jesus] called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4)

The First Reading of today reminds us of the need to be humble. "My child, perform your tasks with humility, then you will be loved by those whom God accepts”. Humility leads us to wisdom and understanding of others.

Doing our duty with humility is respecting the work and those who are involved with you in doing that particular job.

The word ‘humility’ is derived from the Latin ‘humus’ which signifies ‘ground’, ‘soil’. Its significance in the spiritual life is ‘to be lowly’, or ‘being true to self’. In classical Latin the word expresses ‘unimportance’, ‘insignificance’, ‘of lowly birth’, ‘weakness of character’, ‘lack of resources’. Hence, humility was always in reference to slaves, servants and people of low status and character in association with condescension and contempt.

In the OT ‘humble’ is associated or linked with the poor of Yahweh (anawim). These have no resources of their own and submit themselves wholly to the will of God who hears the cry of the poor and the needy. The essence of humility therefore consists in a sense of total dependence on God in gratitude for His goodness.

The NT recommends the need to be humble like little children to gain entry into God’s kingdom (Mk 10:15). The kingdom belongs to the poor in spirit who show forth childlike humility (Mt 5:3). This is all inclusive of the spirit of Christ who invites his disciples to learn from him because He is meek and humble of heart (Mt 11:29). He humbled himself, being obedient to death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8).

In Christ’s teaching, humility is closely associated with love and service. The humility of Jesus is the model for progress in prayer life. “If I therefore, the master and teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (Jn 13:14-15).

Gregory the great describes humility as “the mistress and mother of all virtues” (Moralia xxiii,13,24). Keeping this affirmation in mind we can link the importance of humility to love of neighbour and detachment which are of no importance if humility is lacking

The Gospel passage clearly spells out the need for humility in everything we do, eat or drink including our social life. In all areas of our life we need to be humble. Jesus observes the people who were called for a celebration. They were keen on occupying the first seats, meaning to say that they wanted to be first in the company of others.

What about giving? That too requires humility
HERE is a searching passage, because it demands that we should examine the motives behind all our generosity.

(i) A man may give from a sense of duty
He dropped a penny in the plate and meekly raised his eyes; glad the week's rent was duly paid for mansions in the skies. We may give to God and to man much in the same way as we pay our income tax-as the satisfaction of a grim duty which we cannot escape.

(ii) A man may give purely from motives of self-interest
Consciously or unconsciously he may regard his giving as an investment. He may regard each gift as an entry on the credit side of his account in the ledger of God. Such giving, so far from being generosity, is rationalized selfishness.

(iii) A man may give in order to feel superior
Such giving can be a cruel thing. It can hurt the recipient much more than a blunt refusal. When a man gives like that he stands on his little eminence and looks down. He may even with the gift throw in a short and smug lecture. It would be better not to give at all than to give merely to gratify one's own vanity and one's own desire for power. The Rabbis had a saying that the best kind of giving was when the giver did not know to whom he was giving, and when the receiver did not know from whom he was receiving.

(iv) A man may give because he cannot help it
That is the only real way to give. The law of the kingdom is this-that if a man gives to gain reward he will receive no reward; but if a man gives with no thought of reward his reward is certain. The only real giving is, the uncontrollable outflow of love. Dr Johnson once cynically described gratitude as "a lively sense of favours to come." The same definition could equally apply to certain forms of giving. God gave because he so loved the world-and so must we.

One Rupee Coin and Hundred Rupee Note
Once, a conversation began between one rupee coin and Hundred Rupee note, in a treasury. The Hundred Rupee note boasted saying that it visited many places like hotels, bars, movie theatres, parks, recreational environments and touched the hands of important people, and was also a guest at many celebrations being a member of the garlands around important personalities. The one rupee coin was silently listening and was sobbing. The Hundred rupee notes asked “why are you sobbing? Are you sorry that I have all these experiences? You too must be having much better experiences”. The coin replied, “Well, I am really unfortunate, and normally I end up in the dark collection boxes of Churches”.

  Click here for other Sunday Homilies 

A New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a serious exegetical study on the important words and texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East, Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can be ordered through email: or

The cost of the book is Rs. 125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza, OCD, MA. PhD.

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