Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
and you will find favor with God.
What is too sublime for you, seek not,
into things beyond your strength search not.
The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs,
and an attentive ear is the joy of the wise.
Water quenches a flaming fire,
and alms atone for sins.
Psalm 68:4-7, 10-11
But let the righteous be joyful;
let them exult before God;
let them be jubilant with joy.
Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
his name is the Lord—
Father of orphans and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God gives the desolate a home to live in;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity.
Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
you restored your heritage when it languished;
your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.
Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24A
Brothers and sisters:
You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Luke 14:1, 7-14
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
When we want to celebrate something and throw a party, the normal inclination is to surround ourselves with the people we like. We naturally want to perpetuate our good friendships, get closer to the people we want to know better, or return invitations from others. So the Gospel for today is challenging.
It makes sense that Jesus would have a heart for the people who are chronically left out of the company of the more privileged or more elegant. The beggar on the street, the weak, the socially awkward, the ones who have a disability, the poor, are not the ones we expect will help us get ahead in the world or in social circles. It takes humility to serve people in this way. The able-bodied can be ashamed of relatives who are born with handicaps, autism, mental retardation, or deformities. There are whole countries who seek to abort babies before they can be born with Down Syndrome. But Jesus is showing us how precious it is to take care of the poor. He wants them to have preferential treatment. And that treatment does good not merely to the ones who can’t repay us, it helps keep us from becoming proud and wrapped up in ourselves.
Sometimes we can’t see humility until we have first noticed pride. We see pride in others much more quickly than we see it in ourselves. We may see a vehicle push its way past a group of pedestrians in a crosswalk, or a man grab a seat on a bus while a pregnant woman is standing. A crowd may be standing in an elevator while the doors close on a baby’s stroller.
When we curb our own desires so as to make way for our neighbors, when we observe the need that others have, when we do not consider that we are better than the disadvantaged who have been humbled by circumstances or chance, we find that we are protected from pride and we will also find that there will be a reward in heaven.
Everyone needs to be loved. Everyone desires to feel needed and wanted. Today, consider whom you may be able to bless by including them in your life. Maybe it is a relative who struggles with addiction. Maybe it is an acquaintance who appears ostracized from a group. Perhaps you know someone who is shut in. Even if someone has a difficult personality to relate to, your kindness can be a way of building up blessings for yourself as well as for them.