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The Humility of Those Who have once Refused God

Homily on Luke 12.16-21 (The Rich Man who stored up his grain)


 

Glory to Jesus Christ.


Today’s epistle and today’s gospel present us two opposite ideals: the gospel describes

us the rich man’s ideal: to store up many goods for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry. In each of us, including us, the monks, the world remains part of us till our last breath, we all have in one way or another this same ideal at work in us, even if we try to hide it from others and even from ourselves. Let us thank Jesus for spelling out a thought which we may not dare to say openly. The other ideal is described by Paul as he starts his practical conclusions in the epistle to the Ephesians: live in a manner worthy of the call, in perfect humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. On one hand all starts with : let me store up many goods, on the other all starts with perfect humility. In fact, it is better to follow the exact text of Saint Paul. His words begin with “all humility”, which

can also be translated “all self-effacement”. Who wants to have as ideal all self-effacement? We may wish to offer examples of self-effacement and manifest thus our intention of Christian virtue… but that can hardly be called “all self-effacement”. Why did St Paul add to all self-effacement meekness, patience, bearing with one another through love… We have an inveterate tendency to limit the meaning of “all humility, all self-effacement” so as to spare ourselves. How can Jesus invite us to practice “all humility, all self-effacement”?


In today’s gospel Jesus leads us there through cutting off our opposite ideal of “storing up many goods for ourselves, rest, eat, drink, be merry.”; You fool, says Jesus, this night your life will be demanded of you" More exactly: "You fool, this night the life of your soul will be demanded of you". How aware have I become that this night the life of my soul will be demanded of me? Jesus is not saying “this night you will meet with physical death”. Jesus invites us to enter into an eschatological way of looking at our lives, to look at our days beyond one day and then another day. Jesus invites us to be under the Holy Spirit’s continual judgment, to be under the continual question of Divine Judgment, to be appearing in the presence of God. The Holy Spirit continually

questions my conscience: “Are you refusing God or not refusing Him?” I am a fool if I avoid this pressingquestion: Am I refusing you, O God, or not? Is not this question asked me in a most pressing way in this Divine Liturgy when I go up to communion?


That is why Mother Church gives us to pray: “I believe, O Lord, and profess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first.” At least before communion, Mother Church puts in my mouth to profess that my only way of

being a Christian is being in all humility, all self-effacement, to profess that I am first among sinners. I do not know about others, but I know that my conscience is questioned decisively. Can I speak truly to God saying: “I do not refuse you”. In truth, my only refuge is to be all humility, all self-effacement. According to our communion prayer such an ideal stems from faith in Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners. During the retreat of the Mission Institute a week ago Father Gregory Zubacz had us study the prayer before communion. We all need to recognize better what this prayer means if we are not to approach communion as a fool. This prayer is a wonderful grace that our Mother Church puts on our lips.


The prayer continues: “Accept me today as a partaker of Your Mystical Supper, O Son of God”. This means: I look my eschatological day. “I will not reveal Your Mystery to Your enemies”, I will not reveal Your Mystery to my inner enemies, to those thoughts in me which refuse you… “I will not give You a kiss as did Judas”, I recognize that it will hurt you, Jesus, if I act hypocritically when my lips come in contact with Your Holy Body and Most Precious Blood. My refuge is to be like the thief seeing You, Jesus, the All Innocent One, crucified next to me and I confess: “Remember me, O Lord, when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me, O Master, when You shall come into Your kingdom. Remember me, O Holy One, when You shall come into Your kingdom.” I reduce myself to the attitude of a beggar: “May the partaking of Your holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body. O God, be merciful to me a sinner.

O God, cleanse me of my sins, and have mercy on me. O Lord, forgive me for I have sinned without number.”


Thus we respond to Jesus inviting us in the last words of today’s gospel: “Let us be rich for God”, let us be rich for the goods that are handed to us by God, let us be rich for the goods that are handed to us by God through the hands of the priest. St Paul concludes today that following the ideal of self-effacement we are given a 7-fold unity in the bond of peace: through this Holy Eucharist we will become 1) one body, 2) one Spirit, 3) we will have one hope, 4) one Lord, 5) one faith, 6) one baptism; and last of all, 7) we will be united to our one God who is“Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”


Let me not forget the warning given me by Jesustoday: "You fool, at this hour the life of your soul is demanded of you," at this hour the Holy Spirit is putting this question to my conscience: “Am I refusing You, O God, or not?” at this hour the Holy Spirit inviting me to the ideal of all humility, all self-effacement. It is for this reason that Jesus will be coming down to us from heaven on Christmas Day and call out to us “Follow me” who have chosen all humility and all self-effacement.


Glory to Jesus Christ!

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