Browsing Homilies

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29 | Ps 68 | Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a | Lk 14:1, 7-14

Have you ever stepped into someone’s house and realized immediately that it was way more than a building—that it was truly a home? And because it was a home and not just a house, you felt at ease there, too? Some say that it’s love that makes a house a home. I’d say a house becomes a home in how that love is expressed and reflected there—in the effort given to make it welcoming and comfortable, in the attention shown to those who enter though its doors.

In Psalm 68, we sing, “God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.” The psalmist realizes that God wants the poor to be at home in the presence of the Divine, to be comfortable coming before both the power and mercy of God. Likewise, the writer of Hebrews today speaks of approaching the “city of the living God,” not in fear as one might approach a distant king, but with confidence and joy. And in today’s gospel, Jesus tells about the festive gathering where the invited guests are to exercise true humility and seek out the lowest places to be seated. In fact, the hosts of such banquets are to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.

Did you receive an invitation to this feast, this eucharistic celebration, this greatest of feasts that we know we could never afford to pay back in kindness or generosity? Do you consider yourself at home here? Are you counted among the poor, lame, or blind in some way? I’d like to suggest that we enjoy this feast to the extent that we are aware of own poverty.

If we are poor in health or in poor shape financially, that might be easy to identify. But what if our poverty is less obvious? What if we’re impoverished by our prejudices, our stinginess in offering forgiveness? Are we quick-tempered, struggle with lust or sexual sin? What if any one of us is blind to our neighbors in need? Yes, we, too, are welcome and, in fact, have been invited here because there is no better cure for such ills that to receive Jesus in the words of Scripture and in the Eucharist. I’m sure we’ve all heard from others: “Oh, I don’t go to church—you’re all a bunch of hypocrites.” (Yup!) The Word of God and the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood have the power to fill us where we’re lacking, to correct us where we have gone astray, and to send us into a world that remains in need of healing. God’s goodness has made a home for the poor, and the “the poor” is us! We don’t come here because we’ve somehow been made perfect, but because we remain in need of our Savior. The Church remains a hospital for souls.

But let’s also turn the tables a bit and consider others who live in spiritual or physical poverty. If those most in need we know or have encountered came through the doors of this church, would they have the experience of being at home among us? What would they see when they looked around them? Is this a place that makes them feel at home? Do our faces and our gestures welcome them? Would they sit comfortably among us, feeling that they could rest and sing and be built up by God’s Word?

If we feel a bit uncomfortable imagining what the poor might see and feel in our place of worship, or if we feel uneasy identifying the poverty of our own lives, that simply means that God may be at work in us. Perhaps God is inviting us to do some self-examination so that we can move about in this world more assured of His love, even in the weaknesses of our lives.


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