Sunday 1 September 

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 

 Sirach 3.7-20, 28-29, Psalm 67, Hebrews 12.18-19, 22-24, Luke 14.1, 7-14

In the Prefaces of the Eucharistic Prayer, the participants at Mass are constantly reminded that ‘with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominions and with all the hosts and powers of heaven, we sing the hymn of your glory ...’ (preface Sundays II and similar) the great prayer of the Eucharist joins in the great celestial Liturgy and brings us alongside the hosts of heaven. In a normal hum drum parish celebration of the Mass where people are distracted, pre-occupied and where the community struggles to achieve the full active participation sought by the second Vatican Council (SC14) together with an appropriate sense of recollection and attention, this reality can easily be missed. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews in today’s passage wants to make the same point. His hearers are not simply a group of believers struggling to hold on to faith and make sense of it in their own context. They are part of the whole Church gathered for the festival ‘where everyone is a “first born son” and a citizen of heaven’ gathered in the company of millions of angels – the whole host of heaven that the Prefaces talk about. That is the reality that the Christian faith insists is present at the Eucharist – this is not something ‘known to the senses’ rather ‘you have come to God himself, the supreme Judge, and have been placed with the saints who have been made perfect.’ It is faith that reveals this more profound level. Similarly in the gospel the teaching of the Lord reminds those who hear that there is another deeper dimension to sitting at table, about choosing places, about who is invited – because that too is no simple human exercise, it touches the very essence of the life of faith. But in order to perceive the reality that lies behind these truths the believer has to give attention and ponder the deeper truths: ‘the heart of the sensible man will reflect on parables, and the attentive ear is a sage’s dreams.’

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