Rooted in Humility, Rooted in Love

September 18, 2012

In this past Sunday’s Gospel, (Lk. 14: 1-11) Jesus was really on the Pharisee’s case.  In this section Luke writes:

And He spoke a parable also to them that were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at the table, saying to them: When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honorable than thou be invited by him…

Jesus was invited to the Pharisee’s home for a meal that day.  He had to deal with their criticism over His healing of the man with dropsy and then had to take them on about their pride when he saw them taking the highest seats without invitation.  We all have a bit or more of the Pharisee in us, sometimes more than we think.

Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. comments on this part of the Gospel:

To be rooted in love, we must also be rooted in humility, for only he who is humble is capable of really loving God and his neighbor.  The gospel continues with a practical lesson in humility, condemning those who seek the first places.

We should not think that this refers only to material places; it refers also to those places which our pride seeks to occupy in the esteem and regard of others.  It is really humiliating to note how our self-love always tries to make us take a higher place than that which is due us, and this to our confusion, for “he that exalteth himself shall be humbled.”

St. Bernard says:

There is no harm in humbling ourselves and believing that we are less than we really are.  But there is exceeding harm and great evil in wishing to elevate ourselves, even if only a finger’s breadth, above what we are and in preferring ourselves to even one.  There is no danger in stooping too much to pass through a low doorway, whereas there would be great danger in lifting our head even an inch above the lintel, as we would strike against it and injure our head; similarly, we should not be afraid that we shall humble ourselves too much, but should fear and abominate the slightest movement of presumption.

Today people are strongly encouraged to adopt an “entitlement” mentality, both regarding the government and politics and regarding relationships with others.  It’s part of that narcissistic, selfish attitude we are born with and comes most naturally to our fallen human nature.  Church-going people know they should be humble, but how many of us ask ourselves, “Does anybody really owe me anything?” Contracts and legalisms aside, no.

The entitlement mentality ruins relationships.  If we believe that we are entitled to first place in the esteem of others, if we bristle when we are not given the respect we believe is due us from our family, friends, co-workers, or fellow citizens, we have a problem with pride and people aren’t going to want to be with us.  We will be involved in arguments and hurt feelings.  The time will come when we will be taken down more than a few notches and we will resent it.  Humans being what they are, we will experience ridicule as others enjoy our shame.  The best thing to do is not to think we’re such hot stuff in the first place.

Father Gabriel continues:

Let us, like the saints ask God to send us a humiliation every time our pride tries to raise us above others; this will be the surest way to become rooted in humility.  At the same time, we shall be rooted in charity and shall thus possess the two fundamental characteristics of a Christian soul.

Lord, give me the fortitude to ask for humiliations, or better yet, send me as many as You want so that I never forget the price Your Son paid for me.  Let me be more concerned with loving You and my neighbor than with how others think of me.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)

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