REFLECTION FOR 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; 2Tim 4:6-8,16-18; Lk 18:19-14)
1.0. Humility and Pride
As we are drawing close to the end of the liturgical year, the readings of today focus on the theme of humility, especially in relation to prayer. The book of Sirach explains how God pays attention to the lowly, i.e. the poor, the orphans, the widow, etc. “He will not ignore the supplication of the fatherless, nor the widow when she pours out her story.” Also, those who are poor in spirit—the humble of heart—receive similar attention. “The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds.” Humility attracts favours from the Lord. “A humble contrite heart you will not spurn o Lord” (Ps 51:17).
The temptation to be proud caused the fall of man, and is the reason for every fall from grace. Prayer melts pride, but pride makes prayer difficult and empties it of favour. By nature, the gift of free will places man at the cross roads of pride and humility. It is a subtle step, and an easy slip that diverts one’s steps to either direction. The choice for God and the exaltation of his glory is always a quick step to humility.
2.0. SPACE AND SILENCE
In the parable, the Pharisee stood at a close distance to the sanctuary! The image of space in the story is worth noting. Here the audacity of the Pharisee is seen in his desire to ‘occupy space,’ and fill in gap, proving that him is worthy of such closeness. This is how pride tries to fill up every space in the heart such that there is no space for God. Thus, he is full of words, no space; no silence! From exonerating himself to condemnation of others, and back to exaltation of his deeds, the proud man never lacks words, high sounding words that have not roots in silence. While he continued to clatter his mouth, God gazed at the depth of his heart...
The humble man kept his distance. He found himself not worthy, and created a space, which God alone must fill. He had few words to say, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Space and silence beclouded him, and is usually the hallow around every humble man. That is why God and man can easily approach and speak to a humble man. And his prayer is answered.
3.0. Prayer Answered
“For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” So we are encouraged today to examine ourselves and uproot every trace of pride in us. We see pride when we compare ourselves to others, thereby stuffing our hearts with jealousy and greed. But humility looks up to God, and is far-sighted, while pride is short-sighted, and often times, it is blind. From the parable we observe that the proud man appropriates to himself the glory and honour due to God. That is why pride makes the heart heavy and gloomy. But humility seeks to exalt God.
Being lowly is not to be merely simplistic nor to recline oneself in a dull self-enclosed life. Humility is truth and action! It is generous. Humility seeks the good of others and the glory of God. Humility is that strong inclination through which we see the strength of God in our weakness, and recognize his grace at work in all our achievements. Humility is prayer answered!
Fr Jude Chinwe Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Ss Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Sunday October 27th, 2019.