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HOW TO BE GREAT

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Lk. 14:1, 7-14

Everyone has so much pride in themselves that they want to be somebody. Nobody wants to be a nobody! Today’s Gospel deals with this very subject.

Jesus had been invited to a dinner party in the home of a leading Pharisees. He studied those present with a keen eye. It wasn’t a party where friends got together to enjoy themselves; it was one of those where nearly everyone was trying to impress and outdo each other in importance. It was the type of party where people drop the names of important people they have met or unusual places they have been.

Jesus watched their desperate bids to make a good impression. Then He told a story about a wedding where a man walked in and took the most honoured seat in the house. A little later a guest of greater importance arrived, and the first man was asked to give up his place to the new arrival. The best way to avoid that embarrassment, Jesus explained, is to start at the foot of the table, and stay there until the host moves you to a higher place.

At the end of the story He laid down a good principle, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.” Then He gave this suggestion to His host about the next time he had a party: do something different, invite those people who cannot possibly return the favour, give a dinner for beggars, the crippled and the blind. I am sure those words didn’t go down well.

His message on this occasion was to teach people how to be truly great. Sometimes we may put people down but Jesus never did. He was always trying to lift people. This is because Jesus believed that people are the most important thing in the world. The soul of one person is worth more than the material universe and everything in it. Did He not say, “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?”

What Jesus disapproved of is our childish efforts at self-importance. Our attempts to look important are not only wrong but ineffective. People can see right through them and we only succeed in making ourselves look foolish. Let us be satisfied with being the best person we can possibly be - that’s the important thing.

Let our final thought concern the advice Jesus gave His host about a different kind of party. I don’t think He was suggesting that we should not have dinner with or for our friends but simply saying that we should broaden our horizons and become aware of people who are in need. Try to lift them up. Make them feel special and important and above all loved. Again this is Jesus’ subtle way of letting us know that in God’s eyes everyone is important, the poor as well as the rich.

Lord Jesus, let us remember Your words. It is the person who humbles himself who will be exalted - and we should think of those people who are not so well off as we are.

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