A Place of Honor

Luke 14: 1, 7-11
Rom 11:1-2,11-12,25-29 / Ps 94:12-15,17-18

…everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
(Luke 14:11)

Pray that from pride we may be freed,
A place of honor not to seek;
A humble heart God loves indeed,
He spurns the proud, exalts the meek.

Jesus was invited to a dinner at the house of a leading Pharisee, and they observed Him carefully…. When He noticed how they chose the places of honor at the table, He told a parable to those who were invited, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:1,7-11)

Reflection

Jesus knew He was invited to dine in the house of a leading Pharisee not because He was being honored as a special guest, but because they wanted to catch Him with some offense they could later use to accuse Him. And as usual, our Lord used this occasion to turn the tables against them through this parable about humility.

In the footsteps of our Lord Jesus, the greatest in the annals of history were almost always the most humble. To name a few, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Charles Borromeo, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Benjamin Franklin and Sir Winston Churchill. They all became great because of their passion to serve humanity, and yet they never aspired for greatness, nor even for the greatest of virtues, which is humility. Benjamin Franklin once said, “If I ever achieve humility, no doubt I would become proud of it.” And yet he was a leading politician, scientist, inventor, printer, civic activist, foremost diplomat, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. For all his accomplishments and great stature, he signed his letters merely as B. Franklin, Printer. Greatness comes to those who possess a humble spirit. Sir Winston Churchill was ridiculed, and made a political pariah in his own country because he predicted Hitler’s ambition to conquer the world. When World War II broke out, Churchill was vindicated, and honored to lead the British nation against Germany. “Humility comes before honor.” (Prov. 18:12).

To be Christ-centered, (and not self-centered), let us remove all desire for important positions, whether in our community or in the workplace. The struggle to acquire this virtue of self-denial can be a life-long process, and requires much prayers and works of charity. It is never an easy goal. The devil and the world will constantly incite our human nature to pride and self-exaltation. Christ’s dying on the cross has provided our salvation, but still we must continue to strive in repentance and faith. Let us be inspired by role models like Moses, Benjamin Franklin, and Sir Winston Churchill to help us attain this elusive grace of humility. “Claim no honor in the king’s presence, nor occupy the place of great men; for it is better that you are told, ‘Come up closer!’ than that you be humbled before the prince.” (Prov 25:6-7)

Teach me, gentle Jesus how to be meek and humble of heart. Let Your blood on the cross wash away all my pride, self-importance, and the need for recognition. Amen.

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