22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk. 14:1,7-14)
Today we celebrate the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. If it was a weekday, we would be celebrating the Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo. Why is the celebration of St. Augustine’s life important, especially if you are, young, gifted, and black? We turn to the Scriptures for this Sunday to see the answer to the question “why?” As you reflect on the word of God today, I ask you to keep this thought in mind: REMEMBER ONE! KEEP TEN!
We start the day with these words from Sirach (3:17-18): “My child, conduct yourself with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find mercy in the sight of God.”
In this excerpt from his Confessions, St. Augustine reveals the way we are called to live our lives, the Way of the Cross:
O eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity. You are my God. To you do I sigh day and night. When I first came to know you, you drew me to yourself so that I might see that there were things for me to see, but that I myself was not ready to see them. Meanwhile, you overcame the weakness of my vision. . .
I have heard from many professors of Theological disciplines, that St. Augustine was arguably the greatest of all Doctors of the Church. Like Muhammad Ali, he had a legitimate claim to being the greatest. Like Malcolm X, he committed himself, to live as one in submission to the will of God. And, like Martin, his faith was strongest in the most difficult moment because he found true joy in the simple work of doing the will of God. St. Augustine was the mold in which these great men were formed. I often wonder how different the world would be if someone told me and my peers at a very young age, that the greatest of all Doctors of the Church, was a person of color. I have told my sons and grandsons, my daughters and granddaughters to look at Augustine, the first among the great doctors of African descent along with Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Martin King, as models of how to live the life of grace. We hear of the first step to greatness in the eyes of the Lord when Jesus tells the assembly in Luke 14:11: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
At a critical moment in life, all great men and women take the first step and submit to God’s will by showing “Agape” love for all of humanity, especially those who live on the wrong side of God’s law. How does one show “Agape” love? Knowing that love transcends time, Augustine invites us in Confessions to take a look inside in this way: Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance into the inmost depth of my soul. I was able to do so because “you were my helper.”
REMEMBER ONE: Humility (which encompasses love for the other), and if you can remember to love first, the action to KEEP THE TEN is easily done under the most adverse circumstances. Following in the footsteps of the great Doctor of the Church, we get into lockstep with Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Martin King. There is one thing for you to be one who makes this gospel become flesh! Muhammad, Malcolm, Martin, and now, ME! Be Humble! Celebrate and submit. That is the day’s order of business.
Authored: Timothy Tilghman, the Deacon in the Neighborhood, St. Teresa of Avila Church, Washington, DC.