In a world where power, fame and wealth are the so-called “fruits of success”, people manipulate others in order to crave for attention and visibility. This becomes the norm in a world bereft of modesty and meekness.
In today’s Gospel (Lk. 14: 1, 7-14), the ever-observant Jesus noticed how those who were invited at a banquet were choosing the places of honor at the table. He advised them,
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, 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.‘ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
While Jesus wasn’t telling us to take the parable too literally, he was reminding us of the importance of humility. Among others, the place that a person sits while eating is significant. While the reading says Jesus is telling a parable, it really is a practical advice about how to find your place in the kingdom of God. In the First Reading (Sir.3: 17-18, 20, 28-29), the prophet Sirach said,
child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.”
It is about a secret on how to find favor with God and finding your way to Heaven. God does not look at you favorably when you are arrogant and oozing with confidence such that you always blow your horn to announce your presence and capabilities. But this is also not going to the extent of telling your lowliness to others such that you already become clothed with false humility. Remember that the Blessed Mother also said,
“Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.”
She was still perfect in humility because she said prior to that, “Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid”.
Humble persons are meek and reserved but when called to the fore, they will not back down from any challenge thrown their way, for they know their inner power comes from God. In one of the finer examples of humility in action it is said that St. Anthony of Padua after his ordination,
“… sought out the humbler tasks that fell to the lot of the members of his community. He spent his days doing the menial work of washing dishes and helping in the kitchen. Here was the son of a wealthy family doing the labor that is so often despised. When about his work one day, Anthony was called upon to deliver an important sermon. He had been given little time to prepare, and yet, launched into an eloquent and brilliant speech that immediately stamped him as an orator of unusual ability. He had remained hidden, but when ordered to mount the pulpit, his speech was not only a treat to the eyes and ear, it appealed to the heart of the large crowd that listened to him. From that day on, his reputation as a preacher par excellence was established.”
How about you, do you brag about your wealth, your talents, and your family background? Do you keep watch of your pride and stay grounded? Do you realize that when you brag, you make others feel inferior?
Today, let us pray for the gift of humility, the foundation of all virtues. May we remain grateful to the Lord with the thought that what we have are His and just entrusted to us in order to help others find their way to God.
“Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. ”(Mt. 11: 29ab)