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Humble like Jesus
Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 14:1, 7-11
On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. “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 everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, my soul thirsts for you. I desire to be among those in procession to your Holy Kingdom, shouting with joy and thanksgiving. I ask for all the grace I need to make sure I am among them. I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you.
- Observing Jesus: “On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.” This Gospel passage does not tell us if Jesus was invited by the host. Hospitality was considered godly by the Jews, and so the tradition was for the host of a Sabbath meal, in addition to inviting guests, to leave the door open so available seats could be offered to the public. Was there some seat shuffling among these “leading Pharisees” as outsiders arrived? Jesus had every right to expect the highest place of honor, yet that held no importance for him. Instead, he encouraged them (and us) to humbly make way for others to receive praise, honor, or glory by taking the lowest seat at the table.
- The Lowest Place: Jesus asks nothing of us that he does not accomplish first. The Son of God who sits at the right hand of the Father became man and then chose for himself the lowest place at this dinner table. In fact, Jesus, who is the source of honor, chose dishonor and endured humiliation throughout his life because he loves us. There is a wedding banquet in Heaven that we glimpse on earth and it is the Mass. When we are gathered in community at Mass, what is our attitude? Do we welcome newcomers to our pew? Do we smile at the harried mother with a toddler? Do we pray for our brothers and sisters gathered together in Christ? St. Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
- The Exalted Place: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” In our culture, if you want to be noticed you brand yourself on social media. You count your likes and strive to become an influencer. This behavior is the antithesis of the humility Jesus recommends to us. Jesus is not saying we should not be noticed, but it is how we are allowing ourselves to be promoted that can lead us away from God. The Church is full of men and women who became very famous saints because they lived humbly. To dwell in the Kingdom of God, the exalted place of God, we must not succumb to self-promotion or seek worldly exaltation of any kind. We must say with Jesus, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34) and offer everything we do for God’s glory.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, help me to be truly humble as I go about my daily duties. When I am honored and affirmed, I feel good, and I offer these moments to you. When I am humiliated and feeling frustrated, I offer those moments to you as well. I look forward to one day being exalted in Heaven with you, Lord. Make it so! Jesus, I trust in you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will resolve to “take the lowest place” the next time I have the opportunity, even if I go unnoticed myself.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church (2559) on Humility.
Nan Balfour is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She volunteers as a writer and speaker for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter him so as to live in hope as pilgrims in daily life.