The first time I was asked to write a sermon on Today’s Gospel reading was almost 60 years ago in a homiletics class when I was in seminary. I thought I was being smart when I suggested the sermon title, “Do it yourself Exaltation.” I don’t remember what else I may have said, but it was something to the effect this was most likely not what Jesus meant when he said to the guests at the house of that Pharisee, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Lk. 14:11)
Jesus had noticed that the guests at that Pharisee’s house flocked to the seats of honor, jostling one another for the best places. He must have felt that such behavior called for some sort of comment. It was certainly not the sort of behavior that well-mannered people should show in the house of a leader of the Pharisees. It was not the sort of behavior that one expected to see invited guests exhibiting in anyone’s house. So Jesus spoke to them in the manner of a parable. He chose to speak as if he was talking about a wedding banquet, a type of parable.
He said something like this—
“When you are invited to a wedding banquet some seats are commonly reserved for guests of honor. It may be that someone more distinguished than you has been invited. In that case your host may come to you and say, ‘Give this person your place.’ Wouldn’t it be better first to take the lowest place? When your host sees that you have arrived he can then say, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will be honored by the other guests.” As the well-known saying goes, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Ibid)
Among all of the themes in the teachings of Jesus the virtue of humility is one of the most important. I think that humility is closely related to other virtues such as Faith, Hope, and Love. In fact, don’t you think that it is an important component in all of those?
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