Today’s Gospel selection sparks our deeper reflection as we enter upon the 2017 Holiday season: on a Sabbath, Jesus goes to dine with others at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. A special day…a Special Guest…an invitation to dinner and table fellowship…and a teachable moment! Jesus is very aware of his host, his fellow guests and their actions at table…and rises to the occasion of this “teachable moment” with a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor…” Jesus promoting the virtue of humility. (Today’s Gospel selection will continue with Jesus speaking with his host, encouraging him to reach out and invite to dinner the poor and needy…the least, the last, the lost.)
The virtue of humility invites us to be very aware of our giftedness and our limitations. The word “humility” is derived from the word “humus” or earth…created matter that sustains life and growth. Humble people are not wishy-washy or “doormats”, but rather those who know and accept both their God-given gifts and their human limitations. Perfect examples of humility are Jesus and Mary, followed by the many saintly people whose lives we celebrated in the recent Feast of All Saints. Humility is a key virtue for Christians of all ages and walks of life.
The month of November helps us celebrate God’s Life shared with us and our world. The virtue of humility…that grateful acknowledgement of our God-given giftedness…helps us celebrate the lives of the Saints (both officially recognized and those still “under construction”), the giftedness of our life and country which is acknowledged on Thanksgiving Day, and the giftedness which is ours in the Person of Jesus who birth and presence we celebrate on Christmas. Blessings in abundance!
Jesus challenges us to go deeper in our humility: to be women and men of grateful prayer, to be of respectful service to our sisters and brothers as we try to meet their basic needs and encourage them, to respect our earth as God’s gift, to see all of us as members of God’s family…in effect, to proclaim God’s Love for all creation!
As these days we dine with our families and friends, as we celebrate the holidays, as we regularly share at the Table of the Lord in celebrating the Eucharist: may we humbly witness and celebrate God’s Life and Love present in us and our world. God is good!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is a member of the Passionist community in Chicago, Illinois.