Holy Humility

First Reading: Romans 11:1-2A, 11-12, 25-29

Brothers and sisters:
I ask, then, has God rejected his people?
Of course not!
For I too am a child of Israel, a descendant of Abraham,
of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
Do you not know what the Scripture says about Elijah,
how he pleads with God against Israel?
Hence I ask, did they stumble so as to fall?
Of course not!
But through their transgression
salvation has come to the Gentiles,
so as to make them jealous.
Now if their transgression is enrichment for the world,
and if their diminished number is enrichment for the Gentiles,
how much more their full number.
I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers and sisters,
so that you will not become wise in your own estimation:
a hardening has come upon Israel in part,
until the full number of the Gentiles comes in,
and thus all Israel will be saved, as it is written:The deliverer will come out of Zion,
he will turn away godlessness from Jacob;
and this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.
In respect to the Gospel, they are enemies on your account;
but in respect to election,
they are beloved because of the patriarch.
For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 94:12-13A, 14-15, 17-18

R. (14a) The Lord will not abandon his people.
Blessed the man whom you instruct, O LORD,
whom by your law you teach,
Giving him rest from evil days.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
For the LORD will not cast off his people,
nor abandon his inheritance;
But judgment shall again be with justice,
and all the upright of heart shall follow it.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
Were not the LORD my help,
my soul would soon dwell in the silent grave.
When I say, “My foot is slipping,”
your mercy, O LORD, sustains me.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.

Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-11

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor.
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place.
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”


oct 31

I don’t think I can remember an instance where I told my friend to move up and take a higher position over myself at a fancy party.

Oh sure, letting someone go ahead of me in line at the grocery store I’ve done. But that’s not really humbling myself is it? It’s more simply being polite. Seeking the lowest place like Christ describes in today’s Gospel is something that is so hard to consciously choose. It just goes against all of human instincts to get ahead, take what’s ours, and enjoy the rewards that we’ve earned.

This reminds me of something Pope Benedict XVI said when he was also talking of Christ’s teachings on humility; he said “God’s logic is always ‘other’ with respect to our own.” It is so hard to see God’s “logic” in making ourselves the least and lowest, it goes completely against our human instincts and desires.

I think that it requires a lot of practice in humility to get to the point which Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel. It takes a lot of practice in accepting the small, ordinary sacrifices in our day until we reach that point where we willingly give our friend the best seat at the table while we take the worst. It takes a lot of effort to take the grudging things that happen to us day in and day out and accept them with joy.

The irony of humility is that it is a virtue that isn’t acquired through big, heroic actions; but in the small, annoying, tiresome tasks that we choose to do out of love. Christ’s call to humility goes against all our human instincts and requires us to accept and lean on supernatural grace.

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In today’s worst moments, where we’d rather ignore the dishes or hurry past the slow movers on the sidewalk, let’s try to accept these small occasions to grow in the virtue of humility so that one day Christ may ask us to his table of honour.

Christy Isinger is the mom to five lovely, loud children living in the Canadian wilds. You can find out more about her here.

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