When Jesus went to the Pharisee’s house for a meal he observed how the guests were all trying to sit at the head of the table.
Each one felt they deserved a place of honor.
Each one felt that they deserved be recognized as someone special, in fact more special than the others present.
You see some of the guests either thought too highly of themselves or to little of the others.
Sadly our world and our time are also filled with people who think too highly of themselves or fail to recognized the good in others.
Ego and pride are still very real problems almost 2000 years after Jesus.
With all that mankind has accomplished we have yet to free ourselves from ourselves.
Sadly, it almost seems that things have gotten worse in this regard.
How often do we and others begin our sentences with words like:
I come first?
And if we don’t say them how often do we think them?
So much of the violence and pain present in our society today is rooted in ego and pride.
Quite often a marriage fails when one or both of the spouses try place themselves first, at the head of the table, or convince themselves that the other is no longer serving their needs.
And when someone steals something they somehow convince themselves that they deserve to possess what they steal more than the rightful owner.
In other words they place themselves at the head of the table.
One time a young man simply spoke to a young woman he saw in the hall of his DC public school.
He wasn’t aware that she was dating someone already and when her boyfriend found out was outraged.
He felt that he had been dissed or disrespected.
He felt that his “offender” had placed his own interests ahead of him at the table of life.
Tragically the young boyfriend was so overcome by rage and hurt that he took out a gun and killed his the young man who had simply spoken to his girlfriend.
What a tragedy what a horrible tragedy two precious young lives lost because of ego and pride.
How often to we see jockeying for power and position at work?
Instead of doing their job to the best of their ability so that their work may be recognized…
…people use office politics to place themselves at the head of the table before their co-workers.
This pridefullness, this feeling of entitlement, this placing oneself at the head of the table before others, is not limited to individuals or even small groups of people.
Every war starts because some country feels itself more deserving to sit at the head of the table of the world than their neighbor.
Holy ones every sin is rooted in pride or ego.
We sin when we think that our well being, and our will, and our desires are somehow more important that God’s will and God’s law.
In other words when we sin we dare to place ourselves at the head of the table even in place of God.
The only cure to all of this pain and destruction caused by putting oneself ahead of others and God is humility.
There is a lot of confusion when it comes to being humble.
Being humble does not mean feeling bad about yourself.
Being humble does not mean having low self esteem.
Being humble does not mean we deny our God given gifts.
We are humble when we realize that we don’t have to be first in line.
We are humble when we don’t have to have the most possessions or the biggest or fanciest house..
We are humble when we recognize the wonderful gifts that others possess.
We are humble when we realize that all we have
and even our very next breath are gifts wonderful gifts from God.
Being humbled means that we realize that we and those at the table with us are loved equally by God and precious in His sight.
In God’s eyes we are all at the head of the table.
Jesus did not place himself at the head of the table.
He did not come in power and might but rather chose to be born at the very end of the table in the tiny little backwater town of Bethlehem where there was no room in the Inn.
If God had placed himself at the head of the table of creation he never would have forgiven us or paid the price of our sin by dying on the cross.
our town and villages
our cities and our countries
even our world would be such better places
If we remembered the important lesson of today’s Gospel and lived humble lives.
For Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This week let us all pray for the gift of humility.