Saturday, Oct. 31st 2020

Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Mass Readings

 

We have watched for several days as people, “were observing Jesus carefully.” The Pharisees have already noticed He appears to be an irreligious Sabbath-breaker. And now they will see how He conducts Himself at a meal – surely, He will show that He does not carry out the proper purification rituals to handle food. The Lord instead outflanks them and rather calls attention to their concern about seating status. Take the lowest place and wait to be invited to a place of honor.

I must say: Is He not asking us to do the same kind of false modesty that He frequently criticizes the Pharisees for doing? In a sense, Jesus is in fact telling us to play a role. Frankly, it is just as unnatural to forgive your enemies as to want to take a lower status. However, in this case, it is much easier to act out mock-humility because you can be esteemed for meekness. Yet, like forgiving even when you do not feel like it, grace perfects our nature. You have to fake it till you become it, as it were.

Can this be abused? Surely. Many will seek to look humble rather than being so. Christ would detest this. Once a nobleman who came to St. Philip Neri for spiritual direction asked permission to wear a hairshirt – a penitential garment through which he might chasten his flesh and offer it up to save souls. The saint saw a greater area of spiritual virtue this nobleman could develop. So, Philip Neri gave him permission on the condition that he would wear it over his expensive clothes.

Today St. Paul curiously says, “As long as in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed, and in that, I rejoice.”* Amazing! Even if the Gospel is half-heartedly preached, or preached but not practiced, the truth, goodness, and beauty of Christ may still have an effect. All of us must seek the lower place asking God to perfect and purify our motives. Ideally, we will practice what we preach. Yet should we fail, we may be able to lead others to accept the grace to do what we cannot.

Reflection by Fr. Pachomius Meade, OSB

 

*Emphasis added by author

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