Sunday, October 24, 2010

30th Sunday - homily

As many of you know, I am a big sports fan. I really like watching the NFL – yeah, Washington Redskins! As much as I enjoy football, I really can’t stand all of the celebrations done by the players. If you’ve watched football at all the past few years, then you know what I’m talking about. They celebrate after every play! These are grown men getting paid millions of dollars and they celebrate after making a tackle. They get up and flex or chest pump each other, all this nonsense. Can you imagine if I did this after a homily? I’d go back to my seat with one finger in the air and be like, “yeah, that’s what I’m talkin bout!”, and chest pump the servers. That would be so arrogant. It’s really arrogance in style. We see it, too, with the way people dress sometimes. They exalt themselves and bring all kinds of attention to what they’re wearing. It’s really kind of sad to see people on TV or even on our campus who show arrogance in style. I understand it – arrogance sells. It sells more tickets to football games, merchandise in the stores, TV ratings, and members of the opposite sex.

We see arrogance in spirit in today’s Gospel parable. The Pharisee has an arrogant spirit. He says a prayer, but the Gospel says it’s to himself. He says, 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity --greedy, dishonest, adulterous”. We wonder how a religious man can be this arrogant. He is exalting himself – kind of like the NFL player’s “look at me”. Look at how good I am compared to others. As Jesus says, he is convinced of his own righteousness. We look down on this, but we have to be careful not to do it ourselves. How many times have I heard people say, “I am a good person. I haven’t killed anyone or robbed a bank or anything”. This is arrogance. This is being convinced of one’s own righteousness. It’s just like saying “I’m not like those people – murderers or bank robbers”. Part of this is because people think these are the only big sins. But, it’s an arrogant spirit. They are exalting themselves. Like the Pharisee, there is no real prayer to God. They are not asking for anything from God. There is no opening to God. They are merely exalting themselves.

Arrogance sells, humility saves. The tax collector is humble. He does say a prayer to God. It’s a beautiful prayer. “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” If you all ever forget the Act of Contrition in Confession, you can use this. The tax collector is humble; humility means honesty. He is humbly acknowledging the truth that he is a sinner. We are all sinners! He acknowledges the truth and ask God her help. He asks God for mercy. God can work with this. He can work with people who are open to Him. God can’t work with a closed heart.

We hear in the first reading all the people that God can work with - the lowly, the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the widow, the orphan. These are the people who express a real need for God. They are humble enough to be open to God and to ask Him for help. The psalm says that “the Lord hears the cry of the poor”. It doesn’t say, “the Lord hears the cry of the arrogant”. Those who are humble acknowledge that they are poor and are in need. The tax collector recognizes how poor and lowly he is, and Jesus says he is the one who goes home justified. He is the one who goes home saved. He is the one who goes home to Heaven. Arrogance sells, humility saves. Humility is not as flashy or sexy or appealing as arrogance, but it saves. The humble, the poor, the weak, the oppressed – they will be exalted. The arrogant and the exalted will be humbled.

Finally, when we come to the Eucharist, we remember how Jesus humbled himself. He became among those who are lowly and oppressed and weak….even to death on a Cross. Christ was humble and now He is exalted. Through the Eucharist, may we imitate the humility of Christ. May we acknowledge that we are poor and weak and lowly and in need of God. May we live humility because humility saves. May we be exalted with Christ. And, may we say throughout our lives, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner”.

No comments: