HUMILITY

Saturday, 30th Week in Ordinary Time           

            When someone asked St. Francis of Assisi why and how he could accomplish so much, he replied, “This may be the reason: The Lord looked down from heaven upon earth and said, ‘Where can I find the weakest, the littlest, the poorest man on the face of the earth?” “Then God saw me and said, ‘Now I have found him, and I will work through him. He will not be proud of it.” “He will see that I am only using him because of his littleness and insignificance.”

            Jesus, in today’s gospel passage, observed the manner in which people “were choosing the places of honor at the table.” Jesus recommends genuine humility. “The one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Today’s gospel parable is not about table or banquet etiquette. It is a lesson on humility.

            Humility is an honorable virtue. It is said that humility gives access even to the presence of God, and would bring his blessings. St. Thomas Moore talks about humility in these words: “To be humble to superiors, is duty; to equals, is courtesy; to inferiors, is nobleness; and to all, is safety.” “It being a virtue that, for all its lowliness, commands those it stoops to.”

            According to one of the oldest legends, the Devil, Lucifer, was originally an angel of light. He, the Morning Star, tried to set his throne above the throne of God. And he was cast out of heaven because of pride. St. Augustine says, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes humans as angels.”

            In my prayer on today’s gospel passage, I tried to imagine myself being one of the invited guests in that wedding banquet. I found myself in that uneasy moment when I walk to the table and wonder if there is a place for me. And then this question dawned on me: Do I remember either the elation of being considered more special that I thought I was, or the deflation of being thought more ordinary than seemed right to me? I ended my meditation with this simple prayer: Lord, if I am happy in my own skin, I will be good company for whoever is beside me.

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