Banquets and Humility

Yesterday at Mass our pastor had a very interesting take on the Gospel. This is a summary of his homily, in my own words.

It’s not about the party. It’s about our need for approval.

He said that we all need approval, affirmation and recognition–and that it’s OK to need those. It’s not even a contradition of the virtue of humility to need these things.

But the Gospel is calling us to think about whose approval, affirmation and recognition we seek.

Do we seek the approval of our friends? Do we only do what they would consider acceptable and admirable, for fear of losing their approval?

Do we seek the approval of those with whom we wish to associate–those up a few rungs on the social ladder? Do we edit our actions and words so that they would meet the approval of those people?

Or do we seek the approval of those who are truly in need? Do we put aside our own desire to be liked by our friends, family and social class, our desire to climb higher on the social ladder, in order to do what we know is needed to help someone else who can use a hand? Do we encourage our children to include the less popular kids in their lunchtime games on the playground?

That’s humility: being ready to take the social consequence of acting in a loving manner toward those that have been deemed “unlovable” by the very people whose approval we so fervently desire.

After all, whose banquet do we really wish to enjoy? If it’s God’s banquet we’re after, then we need to think very differently about whom we want to impress.

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