Homily for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (27 & 28/8/22)

posted 2 Sept 2022, 07:16 by Parish Office


As Christians, we are supposed to be humble, and that means that we also need to avoid pride. So firstly, what is pride?


Pride can come in more obvious, and less obvious forms. The more obvious: the example in the Gospel parable of the man who exalts himself and automatically sits in the highest and most important place. Just imagine, for a moment, I went to the cathedral for a big and important Mass. At the start of the Mass, the MC comes over to me and says, “I’m sorry, Fr Michael, but you need to move. That’s the Archbishop’s seat.”


So there is the more obvious, overt, form of pride, where someone goes around with the attitude of “the whole world revolves around me, and I’m the most important person in the world”. But there can also be much more subtle pride as well. Think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The serpent said to them that if they ate the forbidden fruit, they would be like God, knowing good and evil. Knowledge! And knowledge is power, as they say. So they chose to rebel against God and eat the forbidden fruit. Of course, it was all a deception. The more subtle form of pride is when we want to be self-reliant and do things by ourselves, apart from God, and when we refuse to submit to God and acknowledge God. No, we want to say, “I achieved it all by myself”.


But then we also want to avoid falling into the opposite trap, which is a false form of humility, where we want to put ourselves down and be part of the mediocre crowd. I never do anything good. I’m good for nothing etc. It’s not actually true. We are made in the image and likeness of God. Our dignity comes from God, and so we have to confess that every good thing we do comes from God, and that God is at work in us. We do sin, and we do mess things up from time to time – that’s true of everyone. But God is at work in us, and we have to give Him the glory. And if we have been given great gifts and talents, then we need to use them in service of God and neighbour, for the glory of God, not hide them under a bushel or bury them in the sand. Being a follower of the Lord is not just about avoiding bad – it’s also about doing good.


I came across this recently, which makes the point that it’s no good being someone who never does any bad, but also never does any good either:


They do not lie;

They just neglect to tell the truth.

They do not take;

They simply cannot bring themselves to give.

They do not steal;

They scavenge.

They will not rock the boat;

But did you ever see them pull an oar? …

They do not hurt you;

They merely will not help you.

They do not hate you;

They merely cannot love you;

They’ll only fiddle while you burn.

The sins-of-omission folk;

The neither-good-nor-bad-

And-therefore-worse.”


Lastly, another little gem I found. It’s important that we avoid pride, and that we don’t try to use pretend humility to further our pride:


There is the story of a rabbi and a cantor and a humble synagogue cleaner who were preparing for the Day of Atonement. The rabbi beat his breast and said “I am nothing, I am nothing”. The cantor beat his breast, and said “I am nothing, I am nothing”. The cleaner beat his breast, and said “I am nothing, I am nothing”. And the rabbi said to the cantor “Look who thinks he’s nothing”. (Alan Paton)


So, to sum up, we are called to avoid both overt pride, where we think we are superior to everyone else, and also more subtle pride, where we want to be our own master and rebel against God, denying we ever needed His help. But we also want to avoid false humility, where we claim that we are nothing whatsoever. The humble person says, yes, I sin and make a mess of things, but I’m also a child of God, and I use His gifts to give Him glory.

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