01/02 – September 2007 - 22 Sunday - C
God invites us to this Eucharistic banquet. Let us ready ourselves to be gracious and grateful guests …
• Lord Jesus, you are our heavenly Food ands Drink: Lord, have mercy,
• Christ Jesus, you lift up the lowly, Christ, have mercy,
• Lord Jesus, you offer us the wisdom of humility, Lord, have mercy,
Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a; Luke 14:1, 7-14
“My child, 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.” –
These words from the first reading are absolutely not for our world. We can protest and say it’s not for the contemporary world full of the competitions of "the rat race”.
But today's Gospel contains two teachings of similar styles. Both start with when, "When you go to a banquet" or " When you give a banquet." Both have a cautioning phrase, "Don't sit at a high place, lest you be put down," and "Don't put out a spread for the rich to impress them, lest you already receive your reward." Both have the same teaching, "But when..."
The Lord is not playing Miss Manners. He is not afraid to say something important in a direct and politically incorrect way. He's not giving lessons in proper etiquette. He is teaching us the proper way to view ourselves and others. He is teaching us about honor, respect, and, particularly, about humility.
A number of years ago there was a terrible article in T.V. Guide entitled "You are where you sit." Part of it is as follows:
“In Hollywood you are where you sit. This is called power seating. A strategically placed table indicates to the community your prominent and important position in the industry. It’s so important that one major studio assigns a full time PR person to make sure the studio doesn't play second fiddle to anyone. One television producer has his secretary call before a meal and politely notes that if the table isn't in the right place, her boss won't go. One producer put it this way, ‘Information is power. I don't want to be seen seated with two dentists and three veterinarians. It ruins my image and they have nothing to offer me.’ You are where you sit and with whom you eat dinner.”
Put both dinner instructions (this one of Jesus and those from Hollywood) together and we have, enough:
- recognize the presence of the Lord in ourselves and in others and honor that presence.
- This is Christian humility. Humility is rejoicing in who we all are before the Lord.
- If we live this way then, the humble, will be exalted by the Lord. As the prophet Micah put it:
"All the Lord wants from us is to do justice and love kindness and to walk humbly before our God."
This is the wisdom Jesus is teaching us … a wisdom which seems unreachable to our contemporaries and to so many of us.