Reflection for Sunday – August 28, 2022
Readings: Sirach 3: 17-18, 20, 28-29; Hebrews 12: 18-19, 22-24a; Luke 14:1, 7-14
Preacher: Sister Karen Dietz
Several weeks ago I fell and what we thought was a severely strained back ended up being a fracture. Over the course of these weeks I have had to depend on others in ways I never imagined. From taking on my household chores to bringing me a cup of coffee in the morning. This started out being very uncomfortable but now it has given way to simply being grateful.
The readings given to us this weekend invite us to humility, acceptance and gratitude in much the same way. From Sirach we read, “conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.” In the letter to the Hebrews we come to understand that the God we approach in prayer is a God rich in kindness, mercy and forgiveness, not some grandiose and distant Deity. And the Gospel from Luke encourages us to allow others places of honor rather than assuming our own importance.
The root of the word humility is Latin, humus, meaning ground or earth. To be grounded is when we figuratively have both feet on the ground, allowing us to be anchored in the most basic elements. The same is true when we are spiritually grounded. We can rest in the presence of God, confident that we are loved beyond measure. This experience of grounding, when it happens, moves me to a place of deep gratitude.
However, just like being physically needy leaves me feeling uncomfortable and a little uneasy, the experience of spiritual humility before God is often uncomfortable. It feels as though God has turned a laser focus right into my heart and soul. It makes me squirm in prayer and reflection. I often end up praying for others and for troubling situations in our world, trying to move out of the “Divine spotlight.”
Why is this? We have such assurance of God’s love for us in the scriptures and in our prayers, over and over again. We are gifted with faithful friends, resources, family and security; why do we shy away from the knowledge of God’s love and care? I think it is human nature. Perhaps we do not feel deserving of this love (and of course we have done nothing to earn it, it is given freely). When we look around at others or at the desperate situations in our world, we deflect, thinking God’s love is better spent anywhere but on us. We regard God’s love as a limited commodity and most of us are loath to take “more than our share.”
Nothing could be farther from the truth. God’s heart is large enough to hold all of creation and God’s love is more than enough to pour into all the joys and sufferings of the world, offering a healing balm and refreshing respite. All we need do is open ourselves to that laser, allowing God’s grace to penetrate even the places of darkness and sin.
When we take the “lower” seat at the table, we are touching into two important truths of our faith. The first is that God loves all that God created without using a scale or measuring device. The second is that this grace does not come with a limit. It does not matter where we are seated, there will always be enough.
What is your degree of comfort with standing humbly before God? Do you want to be sure to tidy up first? Or maybe there’s a difficult conversation you want to have with a family member or friend before you rest in God? What is that part of you that is uncomfortable being in the spotlight? The readings this weekend tell us that there is nothing about us or our relationships that is hidden from God. Each one of us is already “enough,” shadows and struggles included.
This does not mean that we shouldn’t keep working at praying more faithfully, tending broken or fragile relationships, caring for all creation, working for justice and so much more. What it means is that today, we are enough just as we are. Isn’t this cause enough for deep gratitude? It’s okay to squirm in our pew or in prayer as we feel a challenge to grow and change—that’s only human. We are called to hold two realities in balance; that we are always growing and deepening in our relationship with God and our living of the Gospel and that we are enough just as we are. As we together pray with this let’s graciously accept the next cup of coffee offered.