What I’m Thinking: Humility

As a dinner guest, Jesus ventured to recommend some humility to those who shared the table. It’s been a virtue ignored by some and enforced on others in our society. Or so I’ve come to think.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the fourteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14), which finds Jesus at a dinner hosted by a religious leader, one apparently of some significance. And at the dinner Jesus watches the people choosing their places at the table. Apparently the social strata of the day was enough to tell some people, well, they were supposed to sit close to the host, and others were supposed to sit at some distance.

And Jesus said that if you were invited to a dinner that you should sit far from the host no matter your social status, so that you would be invited to come sit closer rather than suffer the embarrassment of being told that you had claimed a place that was not your own.

There was a Peanuts cartoon in which Linus took the seat at the back of Miss Othmar’s classroom. When she asked him why he’d done it, he quoted this passage. She told him to come to the front, and Linus told us the viewers, with some chagrin, that Miss Othmar didn’t seem to be all that fond of Biblical allusions.

True humility is not a high American value. We are far more accustomed to people claiming their places – mostly men. It’s a virtue that we have insisted upon in women, and it’s one that we tend to require of [female] candidates of political office even while their male counterparts show no signs of humility at all.

Honestly, I think that men and women could exchange virtues for a few generations, perhaps. It would be good for us to see women fully come into their giftedness and their authority. And it would be good for men, for people like me, to learn something about what it means to contribute our gifts humbly, perhaps even invisibly.

Most of all, though, I think Jesus says something about the nature of society. And I do wonder if he might not have followed up that statement about seeking a place lower than what you expect with a warning that, in the end, all of these social hierarchies are artificial.

The wealthy one is no more worthwhile than the poor. The healthy one is no more worthwhile than the one who is disabled. The man is certainly of no more worth than the woman.

In the end, I think we will find our places at a table that is… round. And our place is a place of honor because we share it with one another, and because we share it with God.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: | Posted on August 25, 2019

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