A reading from the gospel according to Luke 14:1, 7-11
1 On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.
7 He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
9 and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place.
10 Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Reflection: Be humble.
Perhaps because of his growing popularity, Jesus was invited to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. Jesus accepted the invitation. He never rejects anyone. Rich or poor, sinner or saint, He loves everyone. He then took the opportunity to teach. Everywhere he went, He would always teach. That is part of His mission.
While it is good to be invited to a party, it is awfully bad to be embarrassed in front of many people. When attending an occasion, it is important to practice good manners and to avoid having too much self-importance. People appreciate humility and abhor arrogance. Much more with God who opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (James 4:6).
Jesus is teaching us to take the lowest place and then we will be moved to a higher rank. This is much better than taking the highest place and then fall to the lowest place. In the business world, it is better to start small, learn lessons along the way and grow big rather than start a big enterprise which may become unmanageable and soon driven out of business.
In an earthly banquet, it is usually the rich and the famous in society who jostle among themselves to see and be seen. It is very rare for a rich man to stay on the sideline and waits to be called. It is also uncommon for a man of humble means to compete for a seat in the high place or he would really be pushed aside. However, in the kingdom of God, it is the humble who will be given exaltation for He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. (Luke 1:52).
In this world of self-promotion to gain advantage over the others, the gospel passage above is a timely reminder of our rightful place under the sun. No matter how high we go or how powerful we become so that the “place of honor” is always reserved for us, we must always remember that our worth as a human being is not based on worldly standard but on the fact that God created us and therefore we are His children. As soon as we are aware of this fact, we will be truly humble knowing that without God in our life, we are nothing. Moreover, when we accept the fact that whatever possession or position we have is a gift from God, then we will know how to use them to serve others rather than to make others look up to us and we look down to them.
While Jesus is warning us against giving too much attention to self-importance and feelings of superiority over others, it is necessary to know that Jesus came to liberate us from all forms of oppression so that we can have life to the full (John 10:10). Hence, giving in to feelings of despair due lack of self-esteem and even feeling inferior to others is not humility at all. In other words, superiority and inferiority complexes have no place in Christian life.