Jesus is the definitive divine word that teaches us to be humble. He is also the perfect response of humility to the divine word.
Jesus goes to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. Since the Pharisees love places of honor at banquets, one can suppose that being humble does not interest the Pharisees at the table with Jesus. It seems that less foreign to them than the idea of humility is the advice, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” That is because for them the meal, which connotes nearness, is their opportunity to observe him carefully.
For Jesus, on the other hand, the meal is an opportunity to teach them to be humble. He gives an example that makes clear that common sense dictates that it is useful for people to be humble.
It will be a mistake, however, to think that Jesus is settling for utilitarianism. When he specifies later whom a host should invite to dinner, he indicates that God is the reason why we should be humble.
Humility is truth (St. Teresa of Jesus).
According to Jesus, when one holds a lunch, dinner or banquet, the people to invite are the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Because of their inability to repay, God himself will repay the host at the resurrection of the righteous.
No, the poor and the helpless cannot repay the person who does them a favor. Neither can we human beings repay God for all the good he has done us. The truth, therefore, is that we are all poor and helpless before God. Those who walk in this truth cannot but be humble. Says St. Vincent de Paul, “Truth and humility go well together” (SV.EN I:140).
So then, the only correct human posture before God is that of the humble. And Jesus adopts it in an extraordinary manner. Though in the form of God, he empties himself and takes the human condition, humbling himself and obediently accepting even death on a cross. Because of this, God highly exalts him. And thus Jesus proves that indeed “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Those who conduct their lives and their affairs with humility, waiting for one another, reveal that they have availed of the Eucharist to learn from Jesus. They also show that they have approached Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant.
Lord Jesus, make us learn from you, for you are meek and humble of heart.
August 28, 2016
22nd Sunday in O.T. (C)
Sir 3, 17-18. 20. 28-29; Heb 12, 18-19. 22-24a; Lk 14, 1. 7-14