August 28, 2016
Sep 30, 2016
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Reflection by Fr. Leo
Today’s gospel seems to be in two parts. The first part offers sound advice for attending social functions. It is advice the ego can appreciate to save one from embarrassment. Taking the lowest place of honor will open the door for being raised up in other people’s eyes.
The second part of today’s gospel challenges the ego. Rather than inviting people who can repay you, people you know and are comfortable with, Jesus suggests we humbly reach out to give to those who are poor and crippled, the lame and the blind, all people it is not as easy to be with.
When I was stationed at the Neumann Center at the University of Eau Clair, there was a blind woman from the counseling staff at the University who was part of the parish. She not only had her doctorate, she also had a seeing eye dog. I invited her to lunch. We went. It was a real lesson in all the things a blind person must deal with to live and get from one place to another.
We started at her house and I observed how she worked in her kitchen and moved around her home. Then we got in my car to go to a restaurant. Dog and all! It was fun. Then, while we were in the restaurant, it was interesting seeing people take her in along with the dog and the boundaries the dog tried to keep with her, as it was working and not simply there for children and others to pet and admire.
Though I enjoyed the get together, it did stretch me and took a good bit of energy. Part of that was because it was all so new to me. But it is precisely these kinds of encounters Jesus is asking us to do. Encounters where we need to put our ego aside and tend to the wonderful company of someone who’s life is much different than ours.
Both parts of today’s gospel are important. We need to establish our ego, but then we need to be able to take a back seat and enter into the universal dance of humanity and realize our ego-self is not the center of the universe, but that universe enriches us and brings us insight and wisdom that is more priceless than silver or gold.
It is humility that leads us on this path and why our first reading invites us to conduct our affairs with humility. This week, let us practice a bit of humility by stretching ourselves through reaching out to someone we perhaps would rather avoid. Who is the blind person in your life? When we do, I think we will come to see the wisdom of the second half of today’s gospel and appreciate it as much as the first.