When I was a young boy, I remember looking at how the Church filled up in our Parish, usually from the back. One of the older Altar Boys told me that this was so that those who arrived on time, could see who it was that arrived late. Not a very Christian thought to have. Perhaps though the people back then were paying heed to today’s Gospel. Taking their places at the back with the expectation that someone ‘more distinguished’ would be coming.

As Catholics we know that during every Mass, someone more distinguished does come; when Jesus joins us during the Consecration; we recognise the Real Presence of Our Lord and come forward reverently to receive so that we can become like Him. Before we can receive though, we need to prepare. That preparation involves us repenting of our sins; seeking forgiveness for the times we have gotten things wrong and asking our brothers and sisters to pray for us. We then prepare further by listening to the Word of God and [hopefully] listening when the priest or deacon tries to make the readings relevant to us in the Homily. All of these are leading us and helping us to prepare for the Eucharistic Prayer and the Rite of Communion before we then go and take Jesus into the world beyond the walls of our Church.

The first reading today is full of useful advice, it tells a young man how to grow in life, using gentleness and humility and warns against being brash and bold. Every time we pray, we need to start in humble prayer by admitting our failings, just like the tax collector in scripture who said ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner” [Luke 18:13].

How well do we live up to the message in today’s first reading?

Are we gentle in our dealings with other people, do we show compassion?

Do we value humility in our homes?

The reading goes on to remind us that “The heart of a sensible man will reflect on parables”, how sensible does that make us?

How much do we ponder on the parables we hear in the Gospels?

How do we apply them throughout the week?

The Responsorial Psalm this week is especially apt, as we hear the psalmist praise God for pouring down generous rain, we have seen the rain return recently and are glad at how quickly many of the fields and gardens are responding. We continue to pray that this rain will be beneficial to our farmers and hope that their crops have been saved.

The writer of Hebrews reflects back on some well-known scriptural references stating that belief in Jesus is greater than all of these earlier signs; which are in fact pointing towards Jesus. The writer is stating that Jesus is the Messiah, the One they have been waiting for, it is Jesus that the heavenly throngs are gathered for, it is Jesus who has been appointed as the mediator who has brought a new covenant. That new covenant allows us as Gentiles to become adopted sons and daughters of God, to call Jesus our brother.

I think for many Christians the second part of today’s Gospel is difficult. When Jesus tells us to invite the crippled, the lame, the poor, the blind to the party or to a lunch or a dinner because they cannot pay us back. That party is not solely in our homes, that party is here in our Church. Jesus is saying that His party is open to everyone and that everyone is welcome here in our Church.

How welcoming are we?

Do we know the names of the people sitting beside us?

Do they know your name? If not, why not, they are our brothers and sisters.

With the Energy Cap announcement on Friday, many of our brothers and sisters may be worried about how they will stay warm this winter and be able to feed themselves or their family. First of all, I would urge everyone to look at their own situation and work out how they can reduce energy usage. Drastic times call for creative solutions, could you and a neighbour or a group of neighbours get together to share each other’s heating? This could be done by spending an evening in each other’s home, spending time together in fellowship, while only needing to heat one home at a time. Are we aware of anyone in need who may need temporary support. If people are in genuine need or crisis, then please come either our St Vincent de Paul Team or to me, we can make a referral to the Foodbank, which also gives you direct access to Citizen’s Advice; who can offer more support. Talking of which, the Foodbank will probably be put under additional strain because of this Energy announcement, for those of us who can help, we need to continue to reach out and support places like the Foodbank and other charities who support those in need.

For those who need help, I would like to say please do not let pride get in the way of you asking for help. Today’s Gospel tells those of us who can help, to help with the expectation of not being paid back in this world. Everything we have, has been given to us by God, therefore everything we have needs to be shared with God’s people.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC 525-526: the Incarnation as a mystery of humility
CCC 2535-2540: the disorder of concupiscence
CCC 2546, 2559, 2631, 2713: prayer calls for humility and poverty of spirit
CCC 1090, 1137-1139: our participation in the heavenly liturgy
CCC 2188: Sunday lets us share in the festal assembly of heaven

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those travelling, that they will arrive safely at their destination.
  • All school children, teachers and other staff members of our schools, as they prepare to return to school following the holidays.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • All the priests who will be moving to new roles this September.
  • All prisoners and their families.
  • Those working to help the people struggling with the cost of living crisis.