Below is the homily given by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, at the Mass for Assembly 2017, held Nov. 4 at St. Mary’s University. See the Nov. 24 edition of Today’s Catholic newspaper for expanded coverage of the event.
My dear sisters and brothers, we have encountered Christ! We are united as Church! Today we are sent by the Spirit! We gather around the table with Jesus at the home of a leading Pharisee. Who are there also? Undoubtedly other Pharisees and scholars of the law, and they are watching Jesus.Why? Apparently trying to find something with which to accuse him.
An invitation to a Sabbath dinner had important religious, social, and economic implications. Offering table fellowship indicated that the host and guests were at peace with one another, respectful of one another, seeking one another’s well-being. But this occasion is different. The host and other guests are hypocrites! They are not offering hospitality but hiding their hostility to the Lord.
In a homily on this gospel Pope Francis said that the Pharisees were concerned only about the letter of the law. They invited only their peers to their table — no poor person, no sinner, no one suspected of sin, no one they deemed inferior to themselves. Self-righteousness and arrogance keep one’s circle of friends very limited — shutting doors and building walls to keep undesirables out!
Jesus shows us the way of humility. Not a false humility that might lead one to take a lower place at the table in order to be invited to a higher place! True humility means knowing who we really are — sinners! In need of healing! In need of forgiveness! In need of salvation! Only then can we allow God to fill our emptiness and weakness with his grace and strength and send us out, led by the Spirit, to proclaim the risen Lord and his gospel. We are not sent to show how holy we are or how learned we are or to proclaim our own good news. We are to walk humbly with the Good Shepherd at our side and allow God to work through our weakness and sinfulness to accomplish the work of evangelization.
The world does not need any more hypocrites! We have to know the truth — about God, about ourselves, about our environment, about all our neighbors. We must live that truth every day!
The world desperately needs to hear — and to see in action — the truth of the gospel. Our children and our young people need to learn about the truth so that they, too, will proclaim it in their lives to the next generations. Many of our young people are already learning to do community service during high school and college, preparing them for a lifetime of service to the poor and the neglected — visiting the elderly who are homebound or in nursing homes, helping in a food pantry, helping immigrants adapt to a new life, defending every one’s human and civil rights, showing compassion and mercy to those who are suffering, oppressed, forgotten, or bullied. There are so many needs — we need not fear that we will run out of ways to serve others in need!
We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit like the apostles on that first Pentecost morning. Our archdiocese has been consecrated to the Holy Spirit. God’s love has been poured into the hearts of each of us, and we need to share that love with everyone whom we encounter. In a world of so much violence and chaos, we need to look for signs of God’s work among us — his compassion, mercy, and love manifested in peoples’ lives. Let the Holy Spirit descend upon us like a mighty wind — or with the gentle breath of Jesus upon our souls! Let tongues of fire energize us and help us to bring the light of truth into the darkness of falsehood and hypocrisy. Pray earnestly to the Holy Spirit, my sisters and brothers, and your whole life will change.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is with us always! We rely on her and proclaim Ven, Holy Spirit, Ven!