31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 5, 2017
“The greatest among you will be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”
from Matthew 23:1-12
Many in this world place great value in things that, in the end, are of little importance. The gospel today can help open our eyes to what Christ expects of us as his followers. Three false gods of the worldly, an inordinate desire for wealth, fame and power, are turned upside down by the teachings and life of Jesus Christ. How many there are that have all but sold their souls in order to acquire power, wealth or fame, having little concern for morality or the people that they hurt along the way in achievement of these very temporary assets. Others spend all their time seeking bodily health but have little or no concern for their souls. The world may promise us happiness if we have lots of these things, but it is a lie: they do not last. Every earthly pleasure is a passing joy.
Jesus set us an example by his own life as to what truly matters in this world. By listening to him, we will be ready to enter into eternity well-equipped and wealthy forever. Jesus, who alone among us has pre-existence, could have chosen to be born in any circumstance, but instead he entered a world of poverty, with a father who took humble jobs to support their family and who were even forced to be refugees when those in power sought to kill him. Bethlehem and Nazareth, both then and now, are not centers of wealth and power; and Jesus had none of these things either. None of us would willingly choose such conditions in which to be born, but Jesus did. Jesus will say to us on the last day of our lives: “I taught you what was important by my life, how I lived and how I died. Did you imitate me in some way?”
How much humility do I have? Pride is putting my will, my way above all other things; humility seeks God’s will, God’s way. Sometimes we are misjudged, perhaps even publicly. Or we may suffer some kind of involuntary reversal of health or finances, or are unable, by ourselves, to find a way out of our problems. But, then we can ask ourselves, what am I here to learn, really? Life is in the end not about wealth, fame and power at all, but of growing in holiness by accepting in humility what God permits in our lives as we strive to better our condition, and to serve Christ by serving others. Those who listen to the scriptures and the church will find themselves very wealthy, indeed, at the end of their lives, while those who did not listen will find that every earthly pleasure is a passing joy.