My son, be gentle in carrying out your business,
and you will be better loved than a lavish giver.
The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly,
and then you will find favour with the Lord;
for great though the power of the Lord is,
he accepts the homage of the humble.
There is no cure for the proud man’s malady,
since an evil growth has taken root in him.
The heart of a sensible man will reflect on parables,
an attentive ear is the sage’s dream.
What you have come to is nothing known to the senses: not a blazing fire, or a gloom turning to total darkness, or a storm; or trumpeting thunder or the great voice speaking which made everyone that heard it beg that no more should be said to them. But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and a citizen of heaven. You have come to God himself, the supreme Judge, and been placed with spirits of the saints who have been made perfect; and to Jesus, the mediator who brings a new covenant and a blood for purification which pleads more insistently than Abel’s.
On a sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. He then told the guests a parable, because he had noticed how they picked the places of honour. He said this, ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honour. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited, and the person who invited you both may come and say, “Give up your place to this man.” And then, to your embarrassment, you would have to go and take the lowest place. No; when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there, so that, when your host comes, he may say, “My friend, move up higher.” In that way, everyone with you at the table will see you honoured. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’
Then he said to his host, ‘When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbours, for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means that you are fortunate, because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again.’
“…the man who humbles himself will be exalted”
I was scared stiff when I first learned that I had to sell mortgages as a relatively new joinee to the banking industry. You can imagine how high this fear escalated to when I learned I was scheduled to speak with potential buyers at the property show flat soon after I graduated from training!
I remember pacing nervously at the show flat, wondering what to do, when an idea came to me. I approached one of my colleagues, a seasoned mortgage banker, and made him an offer; I would refer all my prospects to him, provided he allowed me to sit in to listen to how he spoke with them.
I learned a lot that day. While I remember him speaking confidently with the prospects, what struck me even more was that in order to sell the loans, my colleague actually misrepresented certain features of the housing loan product. When asked subsequently about it, the man said, with a smile, that he would have long left the bank by the time the clients came back to the bank to complain.
I was appalled.
While my colleague showed great competence in dealing with clients, which was a way for me to learn and model my presentations after, his lack of integrity clearly negated this.
In today’s gospel, Jesus points out what is done in society and suggests an alternative approach. Until then, people learned from watching each other, often taking their cue from the ‘higher-ups’ in society. The model was turned on its head; instead of focusing on ourselves, the parables Jesus taught showed us the right way was to focus on others.
Jesus is our ultimate role model. Jesus came, not only to die for us, but to be our ultimate role model. He shows us how we are to live!
(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)
Prayer: Father, help us to always turn to You and Your Son Jesus, to show us how to live our lives in the way that You would want us to live. Speak to us, Father, in our prayers and in Your Word.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for showing us an alternative way to live, dear Lord. For showing us that our focus should not be on ourselves, but on others in our desire to be closer to You.