The Valley Catholic August 20, 2019 - Page 14

14 SPIRITUALITY August 20, 2019 | The Valley Catholic By Father Brendan McGuire Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San José, and Special Advisor to the Bishop, Diocese of San José. brendan.mcguire@dsj.org. Sunday, August 25, 2019 Correct the Bias: We are Not a Country Club Recently, I went with a friend to dinner at his golf country club back East. I do not play golf and I made the assumption that people who play golf will wear shorts and polo shirts. That is not how they dine at night for dinner! When I arrived in the restaurant in decent shorts and a nice polo shirt the patrons were horrified that I would wear such clothes. They looked me up and down. The maître ’de insisted that I had to wear a jacket and offered me an old jacket from the closet that barely fit. They insisted I wear it and they forgave the pants as long as I would remain seated. The problem was it was a buffet dinner! Now contrast this with another experience. I was at a friend’s house for dinner. Again, I wore a nice polo shirt and shorts, but they were all in shirts, jackets and pants. I thought to myself, “Again! I’ll never get this right!” My friend is in IT and is very wealthy but when he saw me, he and all the guests took off their jackets immediately to join my casual dress. The topic was never raised again. They made me feel completely at home. What a contrast! The table of the Lord in heaven is more like my friend’s house than the country club. The scripture readings today remind us that those invited to the table are not who we think they are. The people are left outside because they do not think that the people who are inside the house should be there. They think they should be there and not those others. The Church is meant to be a prediction of what the Kingdom of God will be like. All are welcome to the table regardless of where we come from. The Pope reminds us that the “Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but a medicine for the ill.” That ill is in every one of us. This is not a country club where the rules are to be obeyed so that we can dine. This is the feast of heaven, to which all are invited, and because we have fed, we want to obey the rules. A very different motivation. The person approaches Jesus and asks, “Are many saved?” But really, he wants to know: Are there many other than me, who are saved? Who are the others who will be there? We might be terribly surprised that when we get to heaven who else is there. We better not complain because those people who are in heaven will probably be equally if not more surprised that we are there! The challenge for us is to not judge and not to set new rules for what Christ has already set the rules. We celebrate the fact that all are welcome and we pray that all make it regardless of how they got there. Sunday Homilies Sunday, September 1, 2019 Cross Boundaries The first reading from Sirach today says: “Conduct your affairs with humility.” Today, the virtue of humility is not touted as an admirable quality. We think of it as being almost self- debasing ourselves in public. The best definition I have heard is from C.S. Lewis. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” Put another way, it is not about us. That sounds like a cliché but it is not. It is thinking of ourselves after we have thought of somebody else; after we thought of God. So, the order is God, others and then ourselves. It is not that we do not think of ourselves but that we think of ourselves in relation to others. We look at it insofar as what would God have me do here. What does this other person need me to do here? In the reading from today, Sirach is trying to teach his students about the value of the virtue of humility before God and realize that everything is a gift from God. Then in the Gospel Jesus is saying it is not a quid pro quo. Humility is about recognizing, as Christ did, that we are all equal. Just because somebody is lame or poor or elderly or from a different nation, they are all still created by God. In God’s eyes, we are all equal. Christ told the story a million different ways. He took a really provocative way of doing it. He held up those who were least; the youngest, women, widows, poor and the crippled who had no value and he raised them up. He said these are the ones we need to take care of. These are the ones we need to listen to. These are the ones we need to see. Because in seeing them, we will see Christ. In seeing them, we will see God’s love. That requires us to cross boundaries. That requires us to listen with respect. It requires us to ask questions and not to judge. It requires us to be humble; to recognize that we do not have all the answers and we have not had all the experiences. 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