Sir 3:17-18,20,28-29; Heb 12:18-19,22-24; Luke 14:1,7-14
One of the parishioners of St. Augustine asked him this question: “Father, what are the most important things in religion?”
“The most important things in religion? I should reply, the first is humility, the second is humility and the third is humility,” answered St. Augustine.
In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches to us a parabolic teaching about those who chose the high place at table when they are invited to a wedding banquet. They should not act as though they are the most important persons in the wedding hall; least they lost their chosen seats to more distinguished guests. To be asked to leave the place is very embarrassing. I experienced this myself before.
I was invited to a parish patronal fiesta. When it was already lunchtime, I was seated at the table reserved for priests. After a few minutes, a parishioner approached and told me to vacate the place because this is reserved for priests. That parishioner did not know that I am priest since I was just wearing slippers and ordinary T-shirt. So I transferred to another table until one parishioner noticed me and told me to transfer to that reserved table for priests. When that parishioner knew that I am a priest, she said sorry to me and I just said: “It’s ok.” But I was already hurt and embarrassed.
Jesus told this parabolic story to challenge them with their pride and to teach them a lesson about humility. As Sirach had said in our first reading: “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.”
There was this story that I read about a certain person who wanted to go to the City of the Sun. But he will pass through a huge plane and mountains. He has to leave his place in the evening so that he will arrive in that city in the morning of the next day. He started to travel. An hour has come, he heard a voice saying: “Stop. Go down and get some stones and put them in your pocket. Tomorrow, when the sun rise, you will be sad and happy.”
Two hours had passed…three hours…still he heard a voice saying the same thing until he went down on a very stiff mountain and very dangerous to pass. The stones in his pocket troubled him and he got hurt and so he threw them away until it was dawn and only one stone left in his pocket. It turned out to be a diamond. He was happy and sad. Sad, because he threw the other stones and happy because one stone left and turned into a diamond.
This is a story of life. The big plain was our childhood days. When we were still children our parents would say to us: “Do this and do that.” For example, they told us: “You should be good, you should be truthful and you should be charitable.” If we do these, time will come that we become happy. The stones are meant to be the virtues – honesty, truthfulness and charity. The mountainous part is about the trials. If we could not bear them anymore, we are tempted to throw them away. We say that why I have to be good or truthful while others are not.
But what is that one stone left that we should throw it away? This is the virtue of humility. Through this, we may be able to accept those trials and difficulties with open hands and may be able to handle all those things. And this is also the virtue Jesus used. Jesus said: “”Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart,” (Matt 11:29).
Our readings for today especially the first reading and the gospel talk about humility and its importance.
What is humility? Is it to make us inferior to others? That we are no longer valuable? It is not. This word comes from the Latin word humus which means ‘fertile soil. In other words, to be humble is ready to accept of who we are especially with our talents, abilities and limitations or weaknesses. God creates us equal and no one is superior. It means just like Jesus Christ, we also say: “Learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart.” It also means that we should live a life that Jesus lived – a person for others. We become truthful to others. We see today that everybody is competing of who will be at the top. But we are called to touch the lives of others. We are the hands, the feet and the mouth of Jesus. Each one of us will become Christ for others. We will use our talents and gifts not for ourselves but for those who need them most.
There was a story again of three persons boasting each other on who has the best Bible translation. The first said: “Mine is the best translation because this is a New American Bible. This is being used in the Mass. The words used are modern and easy to understand.” The second man boasted: “Mine is the best because this is Jerusalem Bible. Very poetic and it is used in our charismatic group meeting.”
The third man said: “I like the Bible translation of my mother because she translated it into her concrete life, she lives everything written on it.” The other two were silent.
The story summarized the challenge of Jesus Christ in our gospel today. Jesus challenges us to translate the word of God into our daily lives. Challenges us to make Bible alive in our hearts, minds and deeds. This is one way of being humble.
“My son, conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts,” (Sir 3:17).
See Today’s Readings: Cycle C