He who exalts himself…

Homily on the readings for Oct. 30, Saturday of the XXX Week in OT, year II

At first glance, it could seem odd to hear the Son of God giving us advice on the seating arrangements at wedding banquets. But the Lord is not trying to play “Miss Manners”; He is telling us deep truths about life and eternity.

We can see that, of course, from His closing line, in the form of an aphorism: “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”. This is often true even on a natural human level. Self aggrandizement often ends badly, and we know that even if it works in this life, it doesn’t work on judgment day.

And that takes us to the real level that Christ was talking about. He gives the example of a wedding feast, and when He does that, He is usually talking about heaven, not merely human earthly situations. The host usually is an image of God the Father. So in this light, He’s saying that it’s perfectly legitimate to want to be in the “place of honor”, which is to say, closer to God, on earth and in heaven. That’s what our responsorial psalm is about: “My soul longs for You, O God”. However, we can’t canonize ourselves and tell God how to reward us.

The way to get closer to God is rather to consider others better than ourselves and try to serve them, as St Paul encourages us in his letter to the Philippians 2:3-4. The less we worry about our own image of holiness, the more we can dedicate ourselves to really helping others with purity of intention. Serving God and our neighbor for His sake should be our only concern.

That’s the attitude of St Paul in the first reading: he’s ready to live or die, as long as Christ is served. What he really wants is to be with God after death, but he knows that as long as he lives he can also help others to know Christ – so he leaves it in God’s hands. He is not rushing to the place of honor, but rather placing himself as a servant so God can reward him when and to the degree He desires.

May God help us to put these principles to practice in the reality of our daily lives, in our homes and our workplace, humbling ourselves to serve others, leaving the judgment and reward to God our loving Father.


About Matthew Green

I am a translator, origami artist/teacher, and photographer, a blogger, former philosophy professor, and I love to sing. You can see my photos on Flickr and buy prints of some of them on Fine Art America. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter (@mehjg), and in various and sundry other social media sites on the web.
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