Luke 14: Humility

The word parable means to use one situation to examine a second.

Oh Lord it’s hard to humble, when your perfect in every way
I can’t wait to look in the mirror; cause I get better looking each day.
To know me is to love me, I must be a heck of a man.
Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.

Can we see the irony in the lyric’s of Mac Davis’s hit song being played out in the Gospel today?  What is the lesson Jesus Christ is trying to teach?  Is it about humility?  Is it about honor?  Or is it about salvation?

Luke tells us, everyone there was watching everyone else, including Jesus closely.  Why were they were watching so closely?  They were trying to figure out the pecking order.  They were trying to figure, the highest place of honor they could claim, without running the risk of being embarrassed by being asked to move.   

In the midst of this tension, while everyone was on alert, Jesus took advantage of this teachable moment.  Jesus came to save everyone!  Jesus knew the way one acquired honor was critical to passage through the narrow gate.

So how does our definition of honor measure up against Jesus standard?

Well what was that standard?  Did anyone catch it?    

Jesus used the word “Rather” twice in the Gospel?  Rather is a transition word that contrasts for us what he noticed people doing versus what he calls us to do following the same principle found in the reading from Sirach.  My child conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.

Go to the lowest place! That’s easy enough is that it?  Nope there is one more rather!  Invite the poor, the cripple, the lame, the blind, all who are unable to repay into our lives.

Let me share a some food for thought. When I was in basic training at Kessler AFB, Mississippi in 1964, I lived in a barracks full of men.  No real walls, just bunk beds and men.  There I encountered a roommate, who I soon realized was inviting every soldier in our barracks to join his group each time we were allowed to go to Biloxi. 

He had an open charming manner and made everyone he invited feel like an old welcomed friend who was essential to the group.  What he did was infectious, and many joined in going around from bunk to bunk to make sure no one got left out without an invitation.   I am ashamed at admit I do not recall his name.  But I would bet, he would be seated at the place of honor where ever he might go. 

In 1989, the Franciscan Order accepted an invitation from the Archbishop to take over the St. Philip Benizi Parish along with the St. Gabriel mission.  At the time, St. Philip Benizi Parish had just finished building a new church, during which the community had become divided and consequently was in a serious financial situation.  One of the first actions the Franciscans took was to hold town home meetings with parishioners. 

They left their place of power and went into the homes of the lowest churches.  Almost the first question out their mouth at those meetings was to ask the people, what do you want from your church?  It was the first time in my catholic life to be asked what I needed from my church, as if I might know something.  It still served as a most refreshing moment and a renewal of Baptism in faith.  They turned things upside down.  They lowered themselves into the shoes of the people.  Almost over night, those Franciscan priests set that parish and mission on fire.  The financial troubles began to evaporate.

Today at a banquet, whom might a host invite to sit at the highest place and table of honor?  Would it be Mother Theresa who lived and worked in the streets of the slums or the local bishop who lives in a mansion?

Honor comes to the one who lower themselves to serving those who can not repay.  Humility comes to those, who take the risk to get out of their comfort zone and step into the world of the hungry, the poor, the lame, the crippled and the blind.  It is while walking in their shoes we learn humility for every talent we have is pure gift from God. 

Oh Lord helps us grow humble and poor in every way
We can’t stand to look in the mirror; cause we see our enemy there.
You know us, yet you love us; You must be an awesome God
Oh Lord helps us grow humble and poor in every way

Leave a Reply