Humility and Selfless Service
The message of this Sunday’s Gospel is both profound and hopeful. Jesus is proclaiming two inseparable paths to holiness. First, stop chasing after human glory or shallow praise.
Second, go and help people who can’t help you back. In other words, His message is: “Imitate Me,” for “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Humility is living in the truth of who we are before God and who we are in relationship to one another. One who is humble always speaks the truth in love and recognizes that the gifts that God has freely given are meant to be used in selfless, loving service to others. We are called to imitate the genuine humility of Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself, as Paul said, “taking the form of a slave.”
In today’s parable, the criticism Jesus is making is that everyone around Him seems to be after only one thing: human glory, the shallow and fleeting praise of others. In his Gospel, John is clear that this is what blinds people from recognizing Jesus. “They preferred human praise to the glory of God,” the apostle says. So what Jesus is telling His hosts is that they’re spiritually blind, blinded by their pride and their own pathetic finagling for the flimsy praise of others.
Jesus doesn’t stop there. What’s the virtue, He asks, in inviting only those you know to your social gatherings—family and friends, those whom you want to impress or get something from?
Why not invite the “poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind”? Jesus tells them they’d be blessed if they invited such people “because of their inability to repay” them.
Obviously, we should identify with the Pharisees ourselves and reflect on this parable as a personal invitation to humbly imitate Christ more fervently. Pray for the grace to do all for the glory of God and not for human praise. Use your God given gifts to serve those who can’t repay you. Join the St. Vincent De Paul Society who help the needy in our parish and the surrounding area. Volunteer to share your time and talent in a particular parish ministry or parish organization. Are you hosting a Labor Day gathering? Reach out and invite an elderly neighbor who lives alone or someone who is lonely. Today Jesus gives us practical advice on how to live our lives in humility and selfless service. Will you heed His call?
May God love and bless you!
Sr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, IHM