Sunday Sipping: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Ezekiel 18:25-28
Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
Second Reading: Philippians 2:1-11
Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32

This coming Sunday’s Second Reading contains one of my favorite passages from the Bible, that is, if you hear the long version. It’s a wonderful poem about Christ and how His humility and obedient self-emptying unto death resulted in His exaltation above all, “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.” It is in light of our Lord’s humility that the readings come to life.

Too often when we see injustice or suffering or even when we’re overwhelmed with life, we blame God. The Lord knows this, and He gives voice to our frustration in the First Reading from the Prophet Ezekiel, “Thus says the LORD: You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!" And how does the Lord respond? In the First Reading, He turns the tables, “Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?” Indeed, who am I to think that the God of the Universe is to blame for the problems I see and suffer through? Our frustration can be seen to be sourced in a lack of humility, which allows one to perceive that it is far more likely that the causes of these problems are our own failings or those of others and not God. And in the Gospel, the call for humility is even more pronounced as Jesus points out the elders’ and chief priests’ hypocrisy to themselves (and in so doing, does the same to us). These officials lacked the humility that was necessary to truly appreciate and accept the message of John the Baptist.

Humility allows one to perceive the reality of things. Namely, we are sinners loved by an infinitely good, wise, and powerful God. The humble man sees how broken he is and how much he needs God’s help and so asks for it. The proud man is blind to his own brokenness, and because of this he feels he has no need to turn to God for help. The humble man, being open to God, can hope fully that God can be merciful. The proud man cannot see his need for God’s mercy. It is the humble man who can be guided to justice and be taught the Lord’s way, according to the Psalmist. The proud man foolishly thinks he can guide and teach himself.

To answer this call for humility, we must look to the Exemplar of humility, Jesus Christ, Who “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 in human appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” If our Master has stooped so low for our sake, who are we as His servants to refuse to do the same for Him or for others? Strive to be humble, brothers and sisters! Pray fervently that God may give you the grace to be more and more humble, for it is through sharing in His humility, that we come to share in His glory.