In today’s gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14) we hear one of Jesus’ most important messages– that, as children of God, we are called to humble ourselves, to live lives of humility, to put God and others before our self.
Jesus spoke of the importance of humility on many, many occasions. In this particular instance Jesus uses the wedding banquet parable to make his point. But he actually makes two related points regarding how humility plays into our lives and our relationships.
The parable itself (Luke 14:7-11) can be interpreted as the importance of our humble response to God’s invitation to enter into relationship with him. The instruction immediately after the parable (Luke 14:12-14) can be interpreted as the importance of our humble disposition in our relationships with each other.
When you think about it, our call to discipleship has everything to do with relationship – relationship with God and relationship with each other. What Jesus is saying is that it is only through humility – humble hearts and humble minds – that both of these relationships are lived out most fully.
With humility comes an inclination to invite God into our lives and dispose ourselves to him. A humble spirit helps us realize how privileged we are to be children of God. A humble spirit leads us to acknowledge God’s dominion over us, and our dependence on him. A humble spirit leads us to acknowledge how every good thing that we have is from God, and how it is God who sustains us. A humble spirit inclines us to be grateful for all the gifts God bestows upon us and to express our thankfulness to him. In our humility we realize that we are nothing without God, but that we are everything with God.
With humility also comes an inclination to invite others into our lives, most especially those who are different than us and those who are less fortunate than us. A humble spirit leads us to treat others with love, patience, compassion, and kindness. A humble spirit inclines us to be understanding, tolerant, and patient with others even those whose limitations and shortcomings might present difficulties for us.
When you sum it up, what Jesus is saying is that a humble spirit allows us to love – to love God and to love each other. Humble hearts and minds lead us to honor God and serve others – to recognize God as the gift giver, and our brothers and sisters as those with whom we share our gifts. Humility leads us to share our gifts just as freely as God shares with us. Humility allows us to place ourselves in God’s hands as instruments to be used for the good of others and the building up of God’s kingdom of love.
In one of Jesus’ more profound utterances he says “learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29). So we go forward taking these words to heart. We humble ourselves each and every day before God so that we might learn more and more from Jesus. And we go forward, humbling ourselves before each other in imitation of our teacher.