This is the fifth and final week of a series called, Resurrection of the righteous. It comes from the words of Jesus in speaking about holding a banquet an inviting those who cannot repay you so that you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous that we read in the gospel this week. We hear about resurrection often in relationship to Jesus. In fact if there was no resurrection it is likely we would not be talking about Jesus as all. Resurrection is the principal event of the life of Jesus. It brings new life and Jesus resurrection is the basis of all resurrection for everyone, everywhere. Resurrection is more than an event for one man it happens everywhere. Seemingly all is resurrection.
We have looked at resurrection from multiple perspectives over the past four weeks. We first looked at being rich in what matters to God, through service, Christian community and being open to Christ dwelling in us. We must build up treasure in heaven, through faith, trust both like Abraham and being detached from the things of the world.. We recognize we always run into opposition, even by members of our family and so we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We shouldn’t feel alone we are part of the Body of Christ and we move together toward resurrection. Those who oppose and challenge us can cause suffering which can be used to discipline ourselves, we can learn to imitate Jesus and there is a narrow path to walk. We can train ourselves to live a disciplined life, one that depends on a set beliefs, with certain values both of which drive our actions producing results. Having the discipline to be last is the best imitation of Christ, it leads to the gift of righteous from God, now and at our resurrection.
Resurrection changes Christ and us. We have no physical description of the resurrection of Christ and it is bigger than a single event in the life of one man, many were seen after the resurrection who had come out of tombs. Resurrection is not resuscitation. Resurrection impacts all creation. At death Christ descends to the dead and brings life to all who have gone before. Jesus calls us to follow, to begin our discipleship journey that continues following Jesus into resurrection. The impact of resurrection is so wide and broad there is nothing that is does not reach. Nothing dies, everything becomes something new.
The readings this week guide us toward humility. We see in the reading from Sirach that humility allows God to make us greater, and reward us. Those who are wise live with humility and find themselves connecting with God and others. The passage from the letter to the Hebrews shows the people (of the old covenant) projecting fear on the power of God and then in time (the new covenant) seeing God himself as humbler and vulnerable. The vulnerable God is connectable and teaches us humility. Jesus also teaches about humility which allows God to raise us up to a more distinguished place. To be humble allows God to trust us with more, so we are gifted with the resurrection of the righteous and we are trusted with more here and now allowing us to be more helpful in expressing the message of Jesus.The passage from the letter to the Hebrews shows the people (of the old covenant) projecting fear on the power of God and then in time (the new covenant) seeing God himself as humbler and vulnerable. Click To Tweet
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time; Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Psalms 68:4-5, 6-7. 10-11; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a; Luke 14:1, 7-14. The readings guide us toward humility a critical lesson for the wise. With humility we can be made first, we can be gifted righteousness and we can be trusted with more from God.
In the first scripture from the book of Sirach we receive a teaching about how to become wise, to learn wisdom. The particular verse speaks of humility, not as a means to be last but to be seen as an individual open to learning and able to be taught new things. The more you humble yourself the more you will be loved by others and rewarded by God. If something is out of your reach or beyond your strength do not seek or search for it, know yourself and what you can achieve. The teaching speaks to knowing who we are in the eyes of God, knowing what God needs us to accomplish, knowing God has given us certain gifts to accomplish our mission. Seek the wisdom of God, it is through humble devotion that we can accomplish getting to the truth of things. It is not sufficient to study without divine grace or to reflect without the wisdom inspired by God. To be humble in all we do opens us to God’s gift of righteousness, it provides us resurrection of the righteous by God. It is humility not grabbing for power that allows God to trust us with his power. In the end we are challenged to be last, this gives God the opportunity of making us first in the resurrection of the righteous.The more you humble yourself the more you will be loved by others and rewarded by God. Click To Tweet
In the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews we read a contrast between old and new covenant. The opening verses address the events on Mount Sinai, God could not be touched, his presence was a fiery blaze and smoky existence. There was literally darkness, gloom and a storm; images of thunder and lightning. Israel’s experience of God was in many ways dark, stormy and untouchable, a remote God. Even the voice, a sound like a trumpet blast could not be endured by the people, the mountain trembled, they trembled. God’s voice was so fearsome that the people begged it to stop speaking. They were not ready to hear God, they were afraid of a too powerful God, who could feel holy or sacred enough to face or hear him. Even Moses the great mediator between God and the people, who had met God face to face was terrified and trembling at what he has seen.
This image is contrasted with Mount Zion, the city of God, the New Jerusalem, where God dwelled in the temple. There were angels (perhaps ministering and adoring God through song) and all the firstborn of the Israel, those who were consecrated to God belonging to him in a special way, offered by their parents who trusted God. We read of a God who judges all and whose spirit makes perfect. We also read of the presence of Jesus, born a vulnerable baby, human and divine, whose blood brings peace, not like Abel’s blood that cries out from the ground for retribution. The God of mount Zion is approachable, there is not fear, there is only adoration, love and vulnerability.
Through the Sinai image the people see a powerful scary God but through the Zion image they recognize a vulnerable approachable God. It is humility that reveals to the people they can obtain wisdom and trust God. God is not a God to be feared if a law is broken, but God is a loving Father who cares for his children. The people don’t need to be powerful but humble and God will love and reward them. In the old covenant (Sinai image) the people needed to know God was powerful and could protect the community of Israel, so this is the God they projected in the community and in their story telling. In the new covenant (Zion image) the people learn God is available to them as a community and individually. God teaches he is humble that all may learn humility and followers discover God is obtainable, reachable, close to the humble of heart. This humility is the means to be closer to God who will make us righteous.God teaches he is humble that all may learn humility and followers discover God is obtainable, reachable, close to the humble of heart. Click To Tweet
The gospel reading from Luke is Jesus teaching how to approach life. If we want to be first we must make ourselves last; if we exult ourselves we will be humbled, if we humble ourselves we will be exulted. Putting others first so that God can pull us forward is Jesus overarching message. When you are invited to a banquet take a lower seat so that the host can invite you to a more distinguished place. When you give a banquet don’t invite those who will invite you to their banquet rather invite those in need, who cannot repay. In this way you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous, the words that theme our series. We see again that humility is the means to advancement, wisdom and the resurrection of the righteous. Jesus’ message is clear, as we have seen in the other readings, it is humility, that makes us approachable, teachable and connectable. It is also how God knows we can be trusted with more. If we act from power, pushing our views and ideals down onto others, God cannot risk giving us more power. But if we are humble and vulnerable, we can be trusted and God will know we will use the power he gives us wisely. So God not only rewards us in the resurrection of the righteous through his gift of righteousness, but we are trusted with more here and now to further advance the mission of Jesus.If we are humble and vulnerable, we can be trusted and God will know we will use the power he gives us wisely. Click To Tweet
We recognize to be humble builds up riches in what matters to God, it stores treasure in heaven, it deflects opposition as we keep eyes fixed on Jesus and even in suffering, with humility we learn lessons that teach us discipline and helps us find joy. Gods wants our humility, God wants us to put ourselves last, so God can make us first. God’s first gift is righteousness. Thus at resurrection, in which all participate, we are made first among all others.Gods wants our humility, God wants us to put ourselves last, so God can make us first. God’s first gift is righteousness. Click To Tweet
Resurrection of the righteous
In the story from the gospel when Jesus mentions the resurrection of the righteous, he speaks of it as a reward, a gift from God that can’t be obtained here and now. We can get rewards now, as in the story of the banquet; if we invite others to our banquet knowing they will invite us to there banquet, then we have obtained our own reward. Jesus wants us to do for others knowing we cannot obtain reward here and now and thus God who sees all things will reward us in the resurrection of the righteous. Extending the story of the guest at a banquet by saying we must place ourselves at the lowest place, the host will bring us to a higher place, this is seen as the last becoming first. Again this is a decision made by God and reward given to those who follow this teaching.Jesus wants us to do for others knowing we cannot obtain reward here and now and thus God who sees all things will reward us in the resurrection of the righteous. Click To Tweet
In all these suggestions of putting ourselves last, inviting those who cannot repay, even seeing Jesus example of putting others first, we are focused this week on the idea that it all requires humility. To have humility or to be humble means we have a modest or low view of our own importance. But let’s take it further and think about humility as knowing ourselves and what is real about our gifts and abilities. The first reading from Sirach cautions us about reaching for the unobtainable or beyond our strength. It takes a wise person to not work toward or expend energy trying to obtain what is out of our reach.It takes a wise person to not work toward or expend energy trying to obtain what is out of our reach. Click To Tweet
Humility is not about declaring weakness in certain areas of life but letting down walls of protection and secrecy that allows others to know the real us. @CraigGroschel recently said, “People may admire you for your strengths, but they connect with you through your weaknesses.” When people know you let your weaknesses show they can open up to you and perhaps also reveal themselves. It is the connection with others that works toward spreading the message of Jesus and helps us become humble.When people know you let your weaknesses show they can open up to you and perhaps also reveal themselves. Click To Tweet
Being humble is not accepting and declaring pride in our weakness but the opposite, it is discovering the truth of who we are. It is essentially a concern for truth so that we do not live in illusion but can grow from where we are; not from where we want to be or where others want us to be. It is only when we are conscious of who we are, with all our wealth and weaknesses, and when we are conscious of the call of God and the life he gives us, that we can build something that God needs us to build. Additionally, it should be seen as we are able to accept the gift of righteousness. In other words, the force for life should spring from the reality of who we are humbly.
What are some ways we can know our self, and live the truth of who we are with humility? There is any number of ways to obtain humility and know ourselves. Certainly true humility requires grace from God. But there are steps we can take to make ourselves open to this grace or minimally letting God know we welcome this grace. Three main categories that help us learn to be humble are; vulnerability, transparency and authenticity.
To be vulnerable means we are open, others see who we are; our strength and our flaws and in fact there is a risk we could be harmed or hurt in some way by revealing our vulnerabilities. But to be vulnerable allows others to see we are not hiding behind some protective identity, or keeping secrets, both of which will make us appear untrustworthy. By being vulnerable we let others know we are trustworthy and that we don’t’ behave as if we know everything, rather we are teachable. When others feel like they have something to offer us, they will offer and this allows us to make a connection.When others feel like they have something to offer us, they will offer and this allows us to make a connection. Click To Tweet
Revealing our vulnerability we are saying we have limitations, we know we can’t do everything, we are not the smartest person we know, that we do in fact need others and depend on people to get along. This dependency on others shows again others can offer their gifts and they will be accepted. We all have limitations, knowing our own and even letting others see our limitations makes us appear real and very trustworthy.
Vulnerability asks for forgiveness. Knowing we are limited also means we will make mistakes, we will hurt others and so we need to be ready to ask for forgiveness. This also requires we are free in giving forgiveness. We are going to make mistakes and others will make mistakes as well. We can never think we know the reason in someone’s heart for a a wrong doing, only God can know this, so as Jesus teaches we must be ready to forgive unceasingly. As we forgive is the measure that God will forgive us.We can never think we know the reason in someone’s heart for a a wrong doing, only God can know this, so as Jesus teaches we must be ready to forgive unceasingly. Click To Tweet
Someone vulnerable will work to control their pride. We will always struggle with our ego looking for accolades, which is a little like sitting in the best seat at a banquet, we take our own place and all that can happen is we are asked to take a lower seat. Pride elevates ourselves over others and even over God. This will put people off and they will think you are not vulnerable but in fact truly seeking your own repayment. Pride is obtaining our own pleasure from what we think we have achieved on our own, it is most likely the complete opposite of humility.Pride is obtaining our own pleasure from what we think we have achieved on our own, it is most likely the complete opposite of humility. Click To Tweet
Transparency allows others to know what we are thinking, it is a way that others can perceive who we are, or in the case of a disciple whose we are. To be transparent is another means of allowing others to trust us. We don’t put up protective walls and so there can be no suspicion about what or who we are. Transparency builds trust because it communicates open motives, honesty and our thinking.Transparency builds trust because it communicates open motives, honesty and our thinking. Click To Tweet
Transparent people are content people. They are happy with who they are, what they have and what they have achieved. It doesn’t mean they are not trying to push to accomplish more, but they take honest stock in where they are and accept the reality of it with satisfaction.
Transparent people are honest. They let others know about themselves and they tell the truth to others. Honesty builds trust and allows for relationships to grow and connection to happen. Being honest doesn’t mean telling someone everything, (e.g. we never tell our wives their butt looks to big in a certain dress, right?) But honesty means truthfulness, which includes well thought out responses to other’s questions and expectations of us. Along with honesty comes openness, we should be able to share our thinking with others, we should be ready to let them know how we reach conclusions and decisions. Being open is an important aspect to transparency.
Transparent people ask for help when they need and offer help when others need. Helping one another, despite a lack of time or inclination shows we care about others. Caring is a good thing to be transparent about. We know we will need help and so we should be ready to help whenever we are able.
Authenticity means we are being genuine. We have spent time discovering who we are and thus know who we are. We revel to others our genuine self. Being authentic allows others to know us and trust us. If we can be authentic with others they will be authentic with us.
Authentic people celebrate other’s successes. The opposite of this would be jealousy which must be avoided. Celebrating others authentically helps us defeat this urge in ourselves to be jealous or envious. When we see others succeeding we should be there to congratulate them, help them see their own success. It is easy to be critical, but authentic people are positive and proud when those around them, particularly other disciples have accomplished something.It is easy to be critical, but authentic people are positive and proud when those around them, particularly other disciples have accomplished something. Click To Tweet
Authentic people also respect others, no matter who they are or how needy they may seem. Respecting others means authentic listening, truly caring about their story or question, it means seeking their help and advice when we could use it. Showing others respect can be one of the most uplifting and positive actions we can offer to others and it cost us nothing. Respect seems more and more rare in our times, especially with the freedom of social media to be anonymously disrespectful. This is a trend authentic people can and should change.Showing others respect can be one of the most uplifting and positive actions we can offer to others and it cost us nothing. Click To Tweet
Authentic people are patient, they don’t think others are in their way or holding them back, rather they see what others do as important and patiently wait when necessary (I am thinking of my own driving habits here.). Authentic people are also patient with others mistakes or weaknesses. All of us are weaker than someone so by being patient we are offering encouragement and encouraging someone else to be patient as well.All of us are weaker than someone so by being patient we are offering encouragement and encouraging someone else to be patient as well. Click To Tweet
Authentic people are grateful people. Everything comes from God and as Paul has written in all things we should rejoice. If we are open to God’s will then whatever is from God should be a reason for celebration. As I began to write these reflections, we are preparing for hurricane Dorian, a powerful storm heading toward Florida. As I finalize this reflection Dorian looks like it will move out to sea. Whether we have a hurricane or whether we don’t there is a purpose, and with God we should celebrate.
These ideas under the categories of vulnerability, transparency and authenticity are just means to get to our God inspired goal of being humble. God needs our humility so he can depend on us. We recognize in this weekend’s readings that humility has been present through the entire story of the people of God. It means we can be upheld as disciples and God will receive the glory. Being humble makes us available to the gift of righteousness. It is another step toward the resurrection of the righteous. Work on yourself, make an effort to be vulnerable, transparent and authentic so you may be humble in the eyes of God and other followers.Work on yourself, make an effort to be vulnerable, transparent and authentic so you may be humble in the eyes of God and other followers. Click To Tweet
As we close out our series we must remember resurrection changes everything, including who we are before God. Resurrection is for all and life is eternal. If we are going to live forever than we should live through the means that allows God to gift us with righteousness. We must be rich in what matters to God, we must store treasure in heaven not here and now, we must keep eyes fixed on Jesus even in opposition, we must build up discipline to be last so God can make us first and we must live humble lives so God can trust us with power. In all of our life by following these ideas we make ourselves available to be made righteous and we will celebrate the resurrection of the righteous. It is the best resurrection we can celebrate, it is one with Jesus.
We should recognize there is a pattern moving us toward resurrection of the righteous, we meet Jesus, we fall away and move into full conversion. We try to imitate Jesus but realize it is him alone who acts as God would like all of us to act. But we are invited to the resurrection of the righteous even when we fall short because God is merciful.