22nd Sunday. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/090119.cfm
In the Gospel Jesus teaches with two parables…one parable for the guests at a banquet and another lesson for the one hosting the feast… but both lessons have to do with humility.
I don’t know about you, but quite often humility seems to be misunderstood. Frequently many associate humility with some notion of profound self-deprecation and chastisement where one does nothing but run themselves needlessly into the ground… but humility is more about honesty than the self-deprecating lies we tell ourselves or the false pride sheep skin we wear to make us look humble when in actuality we are manufacturing the impression of humility to look good to others.
The practice of the virtue of humility allows us to be honest with ourselves. With humility we see ourselves for who we really are… with our strengths and short-comings.
Are we sinners? Yes-that is the universal state of every human being so that alone does not make us unique or distinctively unworthy. We all are sinners… but it is what we do with that reality that is important.
Humility is founded in truth. Pride is its enemy. Humility allows us to see ourselves as we truly are while pride puffs us up… distorts the truth… and creates unhealthy and unrealistic relationships with self, others and God.
Often, we associate the virtue of humility with the distorted notion of weakness while in actuality, humility is courageous and takes strength. Honesty which generates a realistic self-assessment is a rare commodity that only the strong possess. We often see ourselves as who we would like to be rather than who we really are. Rarely do we see ourselves as others experience us. That demanding self-truth is illusive.
Jesus uses the backdrop of a banquet to help us see how the virtue of humility is played out in our life. Jesus noted that when the guests arrived at the banquet they went for the prime real estate and jockeyed for the seats of honor only to have the host ask them to move to a “lower seat.” Anyone thinking “awkward?”
Like buying a ticket in the nose bleed section of the stadium to scope out a better empty seat down lower and sliding into it…only to have the real ticket holder arrive with an usher and you are sent packing back to the upper-upper deck. Trying to get something for nothing usually backfires and is not in line with honesty.
Knowing ourselves… with honesty and integrity… the building blocks of realistic humility helps us understand that there are greater and lesser guests than yourself.
To the host Jesus says don’t invite those who can pay your generosity back because if that’s the case your motives are suspect. What is it you really want in return? Power, prestige, esteem, self-aggrandizement, influence?
Jesus gives us a living example today by inviting us to this Eucharistic banquet. Jesus offers this banquet freely to those invited…you and me… who absolutely cannot repay him. We are the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind that he mentions in the parable.
We come here today to share in the generosity of God which we can never match, which we never earn or deserve, or are owed because of our many good deeds. We come humbly to receive not simply bread and wine to feed our bodies but to receive the banquet of the body and blood of Jesus Christ given freely on the cross for we who are humble enough to realize that we need God’s gifts, that they are given freely to us and that there is no way we could repay because one does not need to repay what is given as pure gift.
The more we empty ourselves in true humility-the more room we have for God’s gifts.
You are God’s gifted ones…do you have room for all he has in store for you?