My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As we gather today for our Sunday Eucharist during this Labor Day weekend it is appropriate that we reflect of our call to be collaborators with God in the work of creations.
We also have an important message from our Holy Father, Pope Francis to pray for peace.
As we know, God wants us to transform our human labor with love — so that all the work we do in our homes and in society becomes a way of service to our brothers and sisters and a way to give him glory.
So Labor Day is important for the Church. Let’s thank God today for the gift of work! Let’s pray for those who don’t have work or don’t have enough work. And let’s pledge ourselves to build a society where every worker is treated with dignity and where the economy works for the common good.
Let us pray that we all come together to help our brothers and sisters in need. And let us pray for an improvement in our economy, and for the courage to a build a world in which God’s gifts are better shared.
Then, Pope Francis, this morning ask the entire world to pray for peace: “we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected”
He also called for a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world. It will be next Saturday, September 7th the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace.
“Humanity, he said, needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace!”
So, let’s intensify our prayer for peace in the world. I hope that all the Parishes in the Archdioceses will be united with our Holy Father and have a special time of prayer and penance next Saturday.
I think the readings of today’s Mass are a great help to all of us as we try to search for the most important elements in the promotion of peace.
In the Gospel reading that we have just heard, Jesus is the guest at a banquet.
And he notices that some of the other guests are very concerned about where they are going to sit. They are all competing, trying to get the “best seats,” in the places of honor at table.
So Jesus tells a parable about some people at a wedding feast. And he gives us this lesson:
When you are invited … do not recline … in a place of honor …
Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place.
Jesus is not trying to give a lesson on manners today. Today his is asking us to reflect on the virtue of humility.
Humility is absolutely essential for our Christian lives, my brothers and sisters. It’s the foundation of every virtue. The Scriptures tell us again and again that humility is the beginning of wisdom and holiness — just as pride is the root of foolishness and sin.
We heard that message in our first reading today, from the Book of Sirach:
My child, conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved …
Humble yourself … and you will find favor with God.
But what is humility? What does it mean to humble ourselves?
Humility means knowing who we are. First, it means knowing who we are in relation to other people. And that comes from knowing who we are in relation to God.2
Humility means remembering that every one of us is equal in God’s eyes. So no matter who we are, no matter how important our job is, no matter how much education we have or how much money — we can always know that others are better than we are.3
Jesus showed us the way. He was the Creator of the universe — through him all things were made — and yet he humbled himself to come among us as a little child and to suffer and die for us on the cross.
Over and over again in the Gospels, Jesus is teaching us to be humble. He said: Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.4
Jesus is not calling us to be timid, or to feel inferior, or to be always thinking about our faults. That’s not humility. That’s pride. If we think that way, it means we’re thinking too much about ourselves, and thinking the wrong way.
Pride is always our big problem, my brothers and sisters. Pride makes us selfish, full of ourselves. And when we’re full of ourselves, we have no room left for God. We think we can do everything by ourselves, that we don’t need God; we don’t need others. Pride makes us think that we’re the only ones who matter.
So this week, let’s try to work on our pride. We can do that by doing practical things: Like trying to do more for others. Trying to think about what others need before we think about ourselves.
We can practice the advice that Jesus gives us in the Gospel today. By giving more to others without looking for some reward or looking to be repaid. Without trying to get notice or recognition. Let’s do things freely and only for the love of God!
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, ended his remarks this morning with a prayer to Mary our Blessed Mother asking for her intercession for peace in the world. He said:
“Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!” Amen.
1. Readings (Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C): Sir. 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Ps. 68:4-7, 10-11; Heb. 12:18-19, 22-24; Luke 14:1, 7-14.
2. Phil. 2:3; 1 Pet. 5:5.
3. Phil. 2:5-12.
4. Matt. 11:29.