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Being Humble

The Gospel
Luke 14:1, 7-14

On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, `Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, `Friend, move up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

The Sermon

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Jesus was showing his rebelious nature with this parable. The first century culture he lived in was a honor/shame society. Even more than today a person was measured by his status in the community. Where you sat at a table was a measure of your position in the society.

Jesus turns this on its ear. He says to be humble. Why would someone want humility? Jesus was not only a rebel, he was a big picture guy. Jesus cared about peoples souls, not about their status. He repetedly tells his followers that things like status are temporary and salvation comes with humility and love. By choosing to be the least among others a person is showing his love for those around him or her.

C.S. Lewis writes:
The point is, God wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble – delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are.

It seems to me humility is about giving. It is about surrender. It is about giving everything up to God. I know that when I meditate, if I put all my energy into having a good meditation it never goes so well. But, if I don't even think about successful meditation and simply surrender myself to God I will be blessed with the gift of the sense of God's presence.

As I am writing this I am thinking that if we were to really take to heart one simple prayer, the prayer of St. Francis, we will not only understand what humility is, we will be humble ourselves.


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