I used to think humility meant never accepting a compliment or believing I was uniquely good at anything in particular. Being humble seemed like a command to recognize I wasn’t special or talented and thinking otherwise was being cocky or boastful.
And even though I know now that that is not what true humility looks like, receiving a compliment continues to be a challenge. And when I catch myself being proud of anything, no matter how small, my mind still jumps to the question of whether or not I am being sinfully prideful.
But there is a big difference in acknowledging that something I’ve worked for is good and thinking that it is the absolute best ever.
And there’s an even bigger difference in recognizing an accomplishment or talent as gift and thinking that they are the result solely of my own doing and nothing else.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ parable is not meant to belittle the man seeking the place of honor at the table. His use of parable in this instance could even be seen as a discrete way of letting the people choosing the place of honor at the Pharisee’s home know that their actions (and attitudes) needed adjusting. He does so with an example and without shaming them.
Through this story, Jesus is helping us to understand that a place of honor—or a talent or achievement—is a gift. Understanding it as such creates space for true humility, where we acknowledge our gifts as given by God and use them for God’s glory.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.