Author: Lisa Graas
•11/02/2002 10:22:00 PM
November 3, 2002

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I

Mal 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10

Cursed is the deceitful man that hath in his flock a male, and making a vow offereth in sacrifice that which is feeble to the Lord: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the Gentiles. And now, O ye priests, this commandment is to you. If you will not hear, and if you will not lay it to heart, to give glory to my name, saith the Lord of hosts: I will send poverty upon
you, and will curse your blessings, yea I will curse them, because you have not laid it to heart. But you have departed out of the way, and have caused many to stumble at the law: you have made void the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts. Therefore have I also made you contemptible, and base before all people, as you have not kept my ways, and have accepted persons in the law. Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why then doth every one of us despise his brother, violating the covenant of our fathers?

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 131:1, 2, 3

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

Lord, my heart is not exalted:

nor are my eyes lofty.

Neither have I walked in great matters,

nor in wonderful things above me.

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

If I was not humbly minded,

but exalted my soul:

As a child that is weaned is towards his mother,

so reward in my soul.

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

Let Israel hope in the Lord,

from henceforth now and for ever.

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

Reading II

1 Thes 2:7b-9, 13

Whereas we might have been burdensome to you, as the apostles of Christ: but we became little ones in the midst of you, as if a nurse should cherish her children: So desirous of you, we would gladly impart unto you not only the gospel of God but also our own souls: because you were become most dear unto us. For you remember, brethren, our labour and toil: working night and day, lest we should be chargeable to any of you, we preached among you the gospel of God. Therefore, we also give thanks to God without
ceasing: because, that when you had received of us the word of the hearing of God, you received it not as the word of men, but (as it is indeed) the word of God, who worketh in you that have believed.


Mt 23:1-12

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not. For they say, and do not. For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens and lay them on men's shoulders: but with a finger of their own they will not move them. And all their works they do for to be seen of men. For they make their phylacteries broad and enlarge their fringes. And they love the first places at feasts and the first chairs in the synagogues, And salutations in the market place, and to be called by men, Rabbi. But be not you called Rabbi. For one is your master: and all you are brethren. And call none your father upon earth; for one is your father, who is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, Christ. He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.


Commentary on the Sunday Readings by Lisa Graas

The readings of this Sunday are a lesson to us in humility and of thanksgiving to God for His faithfulness -- a reminder to us that without God we are nothing, but with God we are everything.

The priests in the reading from the book of Malachi were merely going through the motions of service to God. Their sacrifices were not pleasing because their offerings were blind and lame sheep rather than the best of the flock. It is clear that the hearts of the people were not turned to God because they did not see the necessity of honoring God. They placed God in the position of subservience to themselves by sharing with Him the weakest of the flock. They did not believe they needed Him, so the faithful relationship with Him became faithless and forgotten in their hearts. In going through the motions of their faith, they made void the contract. They willingly separated themselves from our faithful and loving God.

God's covenant is not a mere contract which was or can be renegotiated. It is an eternal promise. Because God is faithful, He will not violate His covenant with mankind, but He gives each of us the choice to make it void. God wills that we love Him because He loves us. Without this choice, we could not possibly love Him. We may choose to separate ourselves from His covenant or to participate
in it. Participation in the life that God wills for us requires our humility. Our humility is an act of giving -- an act of sacrifice -- and when we give of ourselves this pleasing sacrifice we receive back from Him the promised life. Those sacrifices made in our bodies, our minds and hearts, we bring with us to the altar. Without humility, full participation in a life with God is impossible because our sacrifices are meager and flawed, at best, like the blind and lame sheep. In pride, we hold back the best for ourselves and give to God the weakest portion.

We've learned from the examples of the saints that a life of humility is very difficult, but in today's Psalm we hear of the reward of humility. The reward in this life is the hope in our hearts that we will be fully united with God. This hope and its realization is the fullest happiness which we may attain in this life. If we live our lives in a state of forgetfulness about our relationship with God, we may have a false sense of happiness, but there will be an emptiness within us still -- hopelessness. In God alone is true hope and salvation. He responds to our faithfulness as the truest of spouses. He will never turn from us when our humble hearts seek Him. He is faithful to the covenant, so we have reason to hope in Him.

St. Paul risked his life to preach the Gospel to the Thessalonians. Eventually, he was martyred for his ministry. There is no greater act of humility than martyrdom. In martyrdom, one gives the utmost he has to give from his store -- his very life. Paul was not only humble before God, though. He was humble before those he ministered to, becoming a "little one" in their midst. It is not enough to stand in awe of the greatness of God. We must also be humble toward one another, no matter our station in life. If we do not practice humility toward others, we cannot truly be humble in the eyes of God.

Humility proceeds from the virtue of temperance because it is a willful act of refraining from disordered desires. In humility, we determine to see faults in ourselves that we do not see in others, or we seek out and find the good in others that we do not see in ourselves. Paul shows forth this humility of submissiveness most especially in his allusion to the matrimonial relationship we have with God and, therefore, to each other when he speaks of the desire to impart even his own soul, and not just the Gospel, to those he
ministered to. The term he uses for this desire has the meaning of "yearning" or "longing" as the spouse longs affectionately for her husband. This is the humility which comes from the love of a holy priest for his congregation and it is an example to us of the depth of humility we must have toward each other.

It is humility that Christ speaks of in the Gospel, and not only the humility of the priests but also of the laity. It can be difficult to show humility when we are in subjection to a priest if that priest has no humility or has fallen into some other great sin. Christ commanded that the people should do what the priests tell them to do because they sit on the "seat of Moses", a traditional term for the authority of the office. Christ is not abolishing the priesthood by saying that we should call no man "father". To the contrary, in our service to God, Christ commands that we are to be in a certain manner of subjection to the priests who have authority over us. He is teaching that it is in humility that we respect the office of the priest since his authority comes from God. When the priests do not live holy lives, however, we should not mimic them and we should not respect their sinful deeds in our hearts. We should do the will of God always, even when those in authority over us do not. It is not an act of humility to endorse or otherwise accept the sins of another. True humility is in seeing the good in others despite their sins, and seeing the sins in ourselves which others do not have. In a healthy understanding of humility, the distinction between good and evil remains clear.

Other Scriptures about pride and humility.

For thou wilt save the humble people; but wilt bring down the eyes of the proud.
(Psa 18:27)

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart: and he will save the humble of spirit.
(Psa 34:18)

He hath had regard to the prayer of the humble: and he hath not despised their petition.
(Psa 102:17)

Humiliation followeth the proud: and glory shall uphold the humble of spirit.
(Pro 29:23)

Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: And you shall
find rest to your souls.
(Mat 11:29)

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.
(Mat 18:4)

Being of one mind one towards another. Not minding high things, but consenting to the humble. Be not
wise in your own conceits.
(Rom 12:16)

But he giveth greater grace. Wherefore he saith: God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.
(Jam 4:6)

And in fine, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, being lovers of the brotherhood,
merciful, modest, humble:
(1Pe 3:8)

In like manner, ye young men, be subject to the ancients. And do you all insinuate humility one to
another: for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble he giveth grace.
(1Pe 5:5)

Other writings on humility:

The Concept of Humility in the Writings of St. Therese of Lisieux, by Marcel Dube, O. Carm.

Josemaria Escriva > The Way > Humility

The Call to Humility: St. Benedict's Twelve Steps


O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, hear me

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.

>From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.

>From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.

>From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.

>From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.

>From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.

>From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.

>From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.

>From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,

That others may be esteemed more than I,

That in the opinion of the world, others may increase,

and I may decrease,

That others may be chosen and I set aside,

That others may be praised and I unnoticed,

That others may be preferred to me in everything,

That others become holier than I, provided that I may

become as holy as I should,

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Imprimatur: + James A. McNulty - Bishop of Paterson, N.J.
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