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St Charles Borromeo, pray for us

The Freedom of Humility
November 4, 2023
Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Charles Borromeo, Bishop—Memorial

“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place.” Luke 14:8–9

This is an interesting parable. First of all, it must be noted that a true saint would not be embarrassed by such a humiliation. Instead, they would happily give their seat of honor to another. In fact, they would most likely have immediately taken the “lowest” spot, since this form of worldly honor would mean nothing to them. But Jesus wasn’t speaking at this time to living saints. He was speaking to people who did struggle with desires for worldly esteem. This shows that the people to whom Jesus was speaking were also insecure and lacked healthy self-esteem.

What’s beautiful is that Jesus meets these people where they are at, telling them a parable to which they could relate. These were the guests who were present at a dinner being held by one of the leading Pharisees to which Jesus was also invited. Jesus’ point was to gently share with them the truth that humility was far better than pride. True exultation and honor is found by humbling oneself and elevating others as a way of pointing to their innate dignity and value as persons. This is a hard lesson to learn.

Most people, when in a group of people, will struggle with comparing themselves to others. “She’s prettier” or “He’s more successful” or “They are very educated,” etc. This common tendency often comes as a result of being personally insecure with who you are as a person. However, if you were able to completely be at peace with who you are, if you loved yourself in the way God loves you, then you would be much freer to love others, see their dignity, and even rejoice in the ways that they are successful and exalted.

Jesus concludes His parable by saying, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” To the normal secular mind, this can be a hard truth to grasp. It can be difficult to understand the great value of humility. But humility is simply seeing yourself in the light of truth, in the way God sees you. The humble person does not need the praise and esteem of others. God’s love for them is sufficient. For that reason, humble people not only love themselves as God loves them, but they are then free to turn their full attention to the good of others. This is pure love. And this love is only possible when humility is lived fully.

Reflect, today, upon this gentle teaching of Jesus, given to those who greatly lacked humility. Try to see Jesus’ concern for them and His desire not to embarrass them but to free them from the heavy burden of their insecurities. If you are one who struggles with this, reflect upon our Lord gently inviting you to embrace humility. Pray for this virtue and practice it with sincerity. Know that the attainment of this virtue will open the door to much freedom in your life.

My humble Lord, You knew Yourself with perfection and loved Your own sacred soul with the same love the Father in Heaven had for You. Please help me to discover who I am. Help me to see myself as You see me. May I never be burdened by the distorted desire for earthly honors and worldly esteem. Instead, I pray that this glorious gift of humility will live deeply in my soul. Jesus, I trust in You.