We are to live a humble life.
The common theme of today’s readings is the need for true humility and the blessedness of generous
sharing with the needy. The readings also warn us against all forms of pride and self-glorification. They
present humility not only as a virtue, but also as a means of opening our hearts, our minds, and our
hands to the poor, the needy, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized people in our society – a personal responsibility of every authentic Christian.
The first reading from the book of Sirach reminds us that if we are humble, we will find favor with God, and others will love us.
The second reading, from Hebrews, gives another reason for us to be humble. Jesus was humble, so his followers are expected to be humble, trying to imitate his humility. Paul reminds us that Jesus was lowly, particularly in his suffering and death, for our salvation (Heb 2:5-18), and so we
should be like him, to be exalted with him at the resurrection of the righteous. Paul also seems to imply
that we must follow Christ’s example of humility in our relationships with the less fortunate members of our society.
In today’s gospel, Jesus explains the practical benefits of humility, connecting it with the common
wisdom about dining etiquette. Jesus advises the guests to go to the lowest place instead of seeking
places of honor, so the host may give them the place they deserve. Jesus’ words concerning the seating of
guests at a wedding banquet should prompt us to honor those whom others ignore because if we are
generous and just in our dealings with those in need, we can be confident of the Lord’s blessings.
We are challenged to practice humility in our personal and social life. Humility is based on the psychological awareness that everything I have is a gift from God and, therefore, I have no reason to elevate myself above others. On the contrary, I must use these God given gifts to help others. True humility requires us neither to overestimate nor to underestimate our worth. We must admit the truth that we are sinners, that we do not know everything, and that we do not always act properly.
Nevertheless, we must also recognize that we are made in the image and likeness of
God and that we are called to help build God’s kingdom with our gifts. We are of value, not because of
those gifts, but because we are loved by God as His children, redeemed by the precious blood of His son
Jesus. The quality of humility that Jesus is talking about has a sociological dimension, too, for Jesus is inviting us to associate with the so-called “lower classes” of society – even the outcasts. Jesus invites us to change our social patterns in such a way that we connect with and serve with agape love the homeless, the disabled, the elderly, and the impoverished – the “street people” of the world.
One man who took Jesus seriously was Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi acknowledged that he had been much influenced by the Gospels and touched by the life of Christ. As he once remarked, “I might have become a
Christian had it not been for Christians!” Gandhi did not lead the masses by standing like a monarch above them, but by identifying with them and sharing in their circumstances. He identified himself with the half naked rural masses by rejecting his attorney’s pants and coat and dressing himself with a loin cloth and cotton shawl. While the other high-caste Indian politicians were unwilling to associate themselves with the untouchables, Gandhi chose to live, eat, and march with them, giving them a new dignity and name. He honored them by calling them HARIJANS, “the people of God.”
We are to live a humble life of service to our brothers
and sisters, especially the poor and homeless, as Jesus
gives us an example.
Love and Peace,