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Good Manners and Humility – Br. David Allen

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In today’s Gospel reading once again we heard about Jesus going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees for a meal.  We were told that the others there were watching him.

You might wonder how, without exploiting his divinity, Jesus was able to be so forthright with such a group of lawyers and Pharisees.

We should remember that Jesus had been doing ministry for two or three years.  He had shown courage in dealing with questions of healing on the Sabbath.

He felt confident in speaking of common courtesy, humility, and mutual respect.

In those times a man 30 or 31 years old, as Jesus was, would have been considered a mature adult.  He was not a brash youth.  It would not have seemed out of place for him to speak out on manners, or on humility.

Jesus noticed how the guests chose the places of honor at the table.  He took the opportunity to speak about the virtues of humility and good manners, speaking in the form of a parable.

In Jesus’ parable he spoke of someone presuming to sit in the place of honor without knowing whether someone else was expected to take that place.  Jesus suggested that those arriving early should first take the lower places.  Then the host could invite them to move up. Everyone would then have good feelings.   No one would be put to shame, and the ones who were told they could move up the table would be exalted.  Jesus’ comments were on mutual respect, good manners, and common sense.

Many things have changed since the days of Jesus’ ministry.

But some people still rush for the first empty seats they see available in a dining room, or an auditorium, or in a church or chapel.

Here at the Monastery we are thankful that most people do ask which seats are available for those who come in for services. Coming in and taking one’s seat quietly and with respect toward the people seated around one, whether it is a church, an auditorium, or a dining room is a sign of humility and of good manners.

When you enter any of those places, please remember how Jesus taught the people in that Pharisee’s house about humility, good manners, and mutual respect.

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