by Sr. Anne-Catherine AVRIL, NDS.
(Readings: Ben Sira 3,17-18.20. 28-29; Ps 68(67); Heb 12,19-24; Luke 14, 1. 7-14)
For the first reading, I would like to illustrate it with a beautiful Jewish tradition which gives in God an example of humility. In the book of Ben Sira we find this: Humble yourself the more, the greater you are. Great is the power of God, by the humble he is glorified. And in the Talmud: Rabbi Yohanan says: Wherever you find mentioned the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, you find mentioned is humility. This is written in the Tora, doubled in the Prophets and tripled in th Holy Writings. And the text gives verses of the Scriptures where can be found side by side the Power of God and His humility. One of those verses happens to be in the psalm 68 chosen by the Church for this Sunday: Extol Him who rides upon the clouds ( His greatness), The father of the orphans and defender of the widows ( His humility). This great Lord is close to the little ones.
The letter to the Hebrews could be interpreted in that way: There are two important mountains on the Bible: Sinai and Sion. The letter to the Hebrews seems to oppose them. In fact in Judaism is noticed the difference between the theophany of Sinai in presence of the people of Israel, majestic, frightening; and the description of what will happen at the end of time “on that day” at Mount Sion : a joyful and universal ascent to the mountain of Sion, full of peace, (cf Micah 4,1-5). Sinai corresponds to one step in the history of Israel, Mount Sion is another one. Those stages do not abolish one another. Both are necessary and inscribed in the project of God on humankind. They will neither be abolished by the last one, the last stage described in the letter to the Hebrews. In a sense, we could say that those different stages co-exist in the plan of God:
Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant, new covenant already inaugurated by Jeremiah (31,31) at the heart of the painful experience of Exile. Covenant that God never ceases to renew, because He never repeats himself. He is Creator of “new things” in total faithfulness to the One and Unique Covenant.
The Gospel is centred like the first reading on humility and greatness. Jesus is the living model of it. He who did not deem equality with God something to be grasped on, rather he emptied himself ( cf Phil 2,6-11) And became a human being like us, and shared humbly our destiny up to the end. It is why he is so close to the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame that we are and he will invite them to the banquet of the eternal life.