Take the Lowest Place!

How do you respond to an invitation? Invitations sent to us come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. When we are invited, the most common initial reaction is to worry about what to wear during the event. Indeed, when I was invited to be a conference speaker, admittedly the first thought that came to mind was how I should look like. A few moments though, the topic content was thought when the idea began to sink in. Regardless, an invitation is not a command, rather it is a choice. We always have the option to decline or accept the invitation. Our Lord Jesus said that “…when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ (Lk. 14: 10) It is embarrassing when one takes the high position when in fact it is reserved for another person higher. Some may do it out of habit, but the Lord’s advice is to take the load less travelled. God wants us to clothe ourselves with humility. In the First Reading, the Prophet Sirach said, “Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” (Sir. 3: 18)

More than humility, the readings also take a look at the invitation. Throughout our lives, Jesus never ceases to invite us to have a relationship with Him. It doesn’t end there, He further proposes a deeper and closer relationship with Him. It may be easy to assume that we are close to Jesus, and so we sometimes take on some arrogance without being aware of it. Unlike the invited guests in the Gospel, we have to realize that Jesus’ call is for a more intimate relationship with Him. Usually, when responding to Jesus’ call, we always take the farthest spot. What Jesus wants is for us to move closer to Him. It is possible that we always prefer to be ordinary but in our relationship with Him, we have to respond. We have to filter the noise of everyday worries and concerns to listen clearly to Jesus.

From the point of view of the host, Jesus said, “… when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.” (Lk. 14: 13-14) As I was reflecting on this, we are reminded that this also applies to us especially those who are taking care of differently-abled children, aging parents, and as well as the poor and the lowly. Nothing beats that kind of humble service that expects nothing in return, regardless of the cost. We shouldn’t worry as the Lord assures us that He will take care of our needs when we are doing His work here on earth.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves .” (Mt. 11: 29-30)

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