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22 Sunday C -

22nd Ordinary Sunday, Year C, 01.09.2019
Ecclesiasticus 3:17-20, 28-29 / Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24 / Luke 14:1, 7-14

What we are sitting on are called pews. They look like benches but there is a difference between pews and benches. The difference is that pews are found only in churches, whereas benches are found all around.

And there’s also a difference between one pew and another, because there is this unwritten, unspoken but understood “favourite” pew. 

Oh yes, we have our favourite pews in church. We come to church, walk down the aisle and then plant ourselves there at our favourite pew. And if someone else is sitting on our favourite pew, then it is like as if someone has stolen our seat.

Anyway, there is no such a thing as “my pew” or “chope” pews by putting tissue paper or umbrella or plastic bag or whatever.

But whatever pew we are sitting on, we can be sure that there is something right in front of our feet. Yes, it is the kneeler.

These kneelers can be quite cumbersome at times especially when stepping in and out of the pews.

We use the pews for a few purposes - we rest our feet on it, we stand on it, we put our things on it.

But the primary purpose of the kneeler is none other than for the knees. It is for us to kneel at those parts of the Mass, or when we want to pray.

Going down on our knees on the kneeler is a humble act of reverence and worship to the Almighty God.

In the gospel, Jesus noticed that the guests were picking the seats of honour. We can be sure that those seats of honour do not have any kneelers in front of them.

Because the seats of honour are not for the lowly and the poor. Those who are at the seats of honour don’t need to kneel, and they also don’t want to.

To be at the seat of honour is to stand out among the rest and to be in the spotlight.

But what is rather disgraceful is that the guests were picking the seats of honour for themselves.

In other words, those guests want the honour for themselves, they want to be held up high, they want the attention.

But that is rather shameful isn’t it. Because honour cannot be demanded, it is to be earned.

And those who do not know what is shameful has a bigger issue within them, and that is pride.

The first reading has this to say about pride: There is no cure for a proud man’s malady since an evil growth has taken root in him.

Indeed pride is a very dangerous thing. It is dangerous because it was pride that turned angels into devils.

And pride comes before the fall. In the gospel parable, Jesus gives this embarrassing scene of the host telling a guest to give up the seat of honour to another person.

The price of pride is shame. And that shame is our own doing. Shame should teach us a lesson provided we are willing to learn from it.

We have heard of the story of the hare and the tortoise. The hare was so proud of his speed and strength and he made fun of the slow tortoise and he even challenged the tortoise to a race just to prove his point.

When the race started, the hare sped off but he stopped halfway to take a break. And then he decided to have lunch since he was way ahead of the tortoise.

But he ate too much and fell into a deep sleep. When he woke up he saw the tortoise was near the finishing line and so he huffed and puffed to the finishing line, but the tortoise crossed it first.

Shamed but still prideful, he challenged the tortoise to another race. He trained hard for the second race to make sure he will finish the race in no time.

The day of the race came and again the hare lost. Why? The hare ran in the wrong direction!

Yes, pride makes us blind and even though we might be shamed we still may not learn our lesson. 

If the pride does not die in us, then nothing of heaven will ever live in us.

If it was pride that turned angels into devils, then it is humility that will turn men to be like angels.

The kneeler at the pew may be lowly and humble but it carries our knees as we kneel in reverence and adoration before the Lord.
And let us also remember what the first reading tells us:
The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favour with the Lord. For great though the power of the Lord is, He accepts the homage of the humble. (SY)