Homily of His Eminence Jose F. Cardinal Advincula
August 28, 2022 | Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Pontificio Collegio Filippino, Rome
Father Greg Gaston, our rector, my dear brother priests, consecrated persons, dear brothers and sisters in Christ: we gather today in gratitude to God who draws us together here at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino to celebrate the Eucharist. We also thank the gift of modern technology that allows viewers from all over the world to unite with us through the live streaming of this Mass. We are especially thankful to the friends of the Collegio who continue to support this institution, both materially and spiritually.
The readings which we have heard today point us to the virtue of Christian humility. This virtue includes three important attitudes: docility, heavenly orientation, and solidarity with the lowly.
In the First Reading (Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29), Sirach reminds his disciples that humility includes the docility. A humble person will not pretend to know everything that could be known. Rather he or she is always willing to learn and grow as a person. The mind of the wise appreciates teachings. A listening ear gives joy to the wise. Ang taong totoong marunong ay hindi mag-aakala o magpapanggap na alam na niya ang lahat ng bagay sa mundo. Sa halip, kaya niyang tanggapin na hindi niya pa alam ang lahat, na meron pa siyang pwedeng matutunan, na maari pa siyang matuto sa iba.
My dear brother priests, this is sometimes a temptation for us who have come here to Rome and studied at the prestigious universities. We may be tempted to think that since we have come here to Rome, since we are graduates of the Roman universities, we know better than those who have stayed in the Philippines. Indeed, many of those who are in the Philippines would tend to think and tell us that we are better and brighter than them, and it is actually tempting to believe them; but let us be careful. Let us not fall into the temptation.
Wisdom is demonstrated not so much by titles and degrees, but docility to the spirit of God, the constant willingness to keep learning, and growing as persons.
Second attitude to humility is heavenly orientation. The Second Reading (Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a) we heard this morning was originally addressed to those who were grieving the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple during the 1st Century. The Letter to the Hebrews console them by orienting them towards the heavenly Jerusalem, where in Jesus Christ our eternal high priest and mediator of the new covenant, offers once and for all, His own body and blood as a sacrificial victim, in obedience to the Father and solidarity with sinners. Earthly temples pass, and earthly offerings perish; but the heavenly sacrifice of Jesus Christ perfects, and the mercy of our almighty God endures.
When we look toward heaven, we become humbler and holier. Because we become constantly aware of the existence of an even greater God.
But if our eyes are stuck in earthly matters, we become either depressed in grief or inflated with pride. Kapag nakatanaw ang tao sa langit, makikita niyang wala siyang maipagyayabang, dahil alam niyang mayroong langit na laging higit sa lupa, may Diyos na laging higit sa kanya. “Deus semper maior” (God who is always greater). Ang Diyos ay laging higit sa atin. Ang makalangit ay laging higit sa makalupa. Pero kapag nakatuon lang tayo sa mga makalupang bagay, mabubulag at mabibihag tayo ng maling pag-aakala na natamo na natin ang pinakadakila at pinakamagaling, at dito nagsisimula ang kayabangan. Let us be oriented towards heaven so we shall gain the virtue of humility.
Solidarity With the Lowly
Finally, the Gospel today (Lk 14:1, 7-14) teaches an important aspect of humility, that is: solidarity with the lowly. Through a parable, Jesus reminds us that we must be willing to associate with the poor, the wounded, and the outcast. To welcome them into our homes, and to invite them to our meals. Humility is more than just the ascetic denial of worldly pleasures and prestige, or the willingness to suffer shame and dishonor.
True humility must be expressed as solidarity with the last, the least, and the lost among us.
During our Synodal consultations in the Philippines, one of the most disturbing realizations we had is that our local Church is far from being with the Church of the poor that we aspire to be. There is a dark and wide gap between the Church and the poor in our country. The Church does not know the poor, and that poor do not know the Church. Our poor and marginalized brethren feel that their views and values are disregarded in our Church communities and organizations. Now, more than ever, we sense the greater clamor for becoming a Church that is in solidarity with the poor. A Church that has immersed deep enough in the lives of the poor so that we smell like the poor. It is not enough that was simply distribute dole outs or ayuda; rather, we must immerse ourselves in the life of the poor, be friends with them, journey with them, empower them for mission, include them in the life and activity of the Church, and advocate for their dignity.
My dear brothers and sisters, humility is a Christian virtue. It entails docility, heavenly orientation, and solidarity with the lowly. May the Lord grant us the grace to embrace Christian humility. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, who is both honorable and humble, guide us and pray for us. Amen.
Transcribed by Joel V. Ocampo