Readings for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Psalm 68:4-7, 10-11
Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24
Luke 14:1, 7-14
Jesus counsels us to take a humble approach to situations in our lives. To illustrate his point, he offers this recommendation:
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
We can take this advice literally. It can also spur us to think creatively about how we might serve others. And it can help us at times when we seem boxed into a humble role.
“When you make lunch, invite your 16-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter (who spoil the meal with an unpleasant argument over the intellectual level of her friends) and your 6-year-old son (who has a cold and is terminally cranky). Don’t expect ‘thank-you-Moms’ from any of them today!”
Whether we get ourselves into a position of service or simply can’t get out of it (lunch must be served), the Gospel acclamation bears a message. “Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”
The picture is not of one yoked ox drawing a plow. It is of two oxen under a double yoke. Jesus is saying that he’s on one side of the yoke, and would we like to join him on the other side?
Or, when we find ourselves already yoked to a humble task – still thinking about that lunch – the image can be turned around. We’re under the yoke but Jesus is willing to join us in doing what we have to do.
“Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” can also be translated, “learn from me that I am meek and humble of heart.” If we will join Jesus in serving others, we will discover from the experience how meek and humble he is.
It is his companionship that makes his yoke, as he goes on to say, “light” and “easy.” It is in humility with him that we can find “rest” (Matthew 11:29-30).
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