- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

November 4, 2017

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO [1]

30th Saturday in Ordinary Time

In his book Heretics, G.K. Chesterton reflected on what the ancient pagans discovered, and his description bears a remarkable resemblance to the neo-pagans of America today. Chesterton wrote:

“The great psychological discovery of Paganism can be expressed with some accuracy in one phrase. The pagan set out, with admirable sense, to enjoy himself. By the end of his civilization he had discovered that a man cannot enjoy himself and continue to enjoy anything else….Now, the psychological discovery is merely this, that whereas it had been supposed that the fullest possible enjoyment is to be found by extending our ego to infinity, the truth is the fullest possible enjoyment is to be found by reducing our ego to zero”.

Christ in this morning’s Gospel points out the consequences of individualism in our society: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted”. Chesterton nailed it: the fullest possible enjoyment is to be found by reducing our ego to zero. It’s called humility.

Humility is the discovery that the fullest possible enjoyment is found by those who humble themselves, so that they can enjoy, not the so-called “good life”, but the greatness and goodness of God. They ask, not for what God can do for them, but for what God most desires to give: himself as a home to live in. Those who reduce their egos to zero present themselves with the attractive power of emptiness to God who is longing to fill them, not with the latest goodies, but with his Being.

Christ as the Sacrament of God found a way to continue to have dinner with his people and give them new life. Every day he takes impersonal bread and wine, the work of human hands, and finds them worthy to be changed into his Body and Blood.

Those who allow Jesus to give himself to them in holy communion. Experience what St Bernard calls his middle coming. They should welcome him by humbly bringing to him all of their needs and weaknesses and sufferings. This is a sacred banquet, a sign of that eternal banquet where the divine Host will say to all those who humble themselves, “My friend, move up to a higher position, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Welcome to the home prepared in God’s goodness for the humble”.