Today’s readings praise the virtue of humility and offer concrete ways for us to become more humble. The Book of Sirach suggests a practical reason for acting with humility: humble people are more likeable than the arrogant. Even God “finds favor” with those who humble themselves. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus provides real-world suggestions for growing in humility and teaches us never to assume we are better than others. His words change our outward behavior and expand our hearts and minds to care about people we might have dismissed before. This practical, almost “folksy” wisdom about humility helps us behave better in daily life and makes our lofty goal of eternal life more accessible. Our reading from Hebrews affirms that heaven is indeed approachable. The personal love and sacrifice of Jesus have opened “the city of the living God” to us. Humility prepares us for paradise.
Our readings today remind us of the larger story of the Bible, of God’s purposes and promises for the world. Because of humanity’s rejection of God, as told in Genesis, human communities were first dispersed. Isaiah proclaims that one day God will gather these communities to be healed and reconciled with God. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus echoes Isaiah and teaches that all peoples in God’s promised future “will recline at table in the kingdom of God.” Notice that in Isaiah, the nations coming to God do not lose their ethnicity or unique identity. They bring their own distinct cultural gifts to God’s table. Each people has its unique history with God, has received distinct blessings from God, and each is accountable to God. Today, we live in a global and multi-cultural Church. When God’s diverse peoples gather in worship today, may we honor and celebrate each other’s gifts and blessings.
We reflect upon the voice of the prophet in this Sunday’s readings. We hear of the suffering and the rescue of Jeremiah. We hear how Jesus anticipates his suffering and death. As with Jeremiah and Jesus, the prophets were sent by God to the leaders and people of Israel. A prophet is one who speaks truth to the powerful, exposing their darker hidden motives and injustices. The prophet presents a way forward that aligns with God’s purposes. A prophet can force people away from a comfortable neutrality or indifference. The prophet creates an urgency to make a choice: Are we content with the status quo, or are we to changeour ways and pursue a new and better path? Today, we may also ask, how do we identify and respond to prophets of our time? How might we provide a prophetic voice in our Church and in our world?
Our readings today explore how faith begins and how faith works. Faith begins with God’s initiative of love, together with God’s promise about the future. The passage from Hebrews urges readers to have an assured confidence in God, who promised and delivered a lasting legacy to Abraham. The book of Wisdom reminds readers of the God who promised and delivered freedom from slavery during the Exodus. In the Gospel passage from Luke, Jesus begins with the promise that “your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom,” before describing how to live faithfully during times when God seems absent. God’s promises mean that God is fully invested in our future. Living in these promises, we can confidently let go of fear and insecurity. We can anticipate that when God intervenes in our lives, it will be for our benefit. And we can become God’s partners in fulfilling these divine promises.