28 August, Sunday — Pride goes before a fall

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ecc 3:19-21,30-31
Heb 12:18-19,22-24
Lk 14:1,7-14

The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly…

So if humility is so important, why is it so that people in high positions are so arrogant? Is it because rising to their lofty positions, they feel self-important that they forget where they came from? That they feel they know it all, to be able to tell others what to do? Is it because in times of difficulty, humility can seem weak; making leaders appear vulnerable when people are looking for explanations and assurances? Or is it because these leaders would rather be stubborn and stick to their guns, rather than to acknowledge their dependence on others.

However, the world is simply too complex for corporate leaders to act as though they have the solutions to every problem. They realize that part of their job is to find the best ideas from the appropriate sources, whoever and wherever those sources may be.

In corporate life, when I became ‘the client’, I sometimes felt so vexed with our agency partners, particularly the more senior team members, that I have been known to be quite a difficult client. Having been on the other side of the fence for 20 plus years, I knew how things worked, no one could pull the wool over my eyes. I knew instantly when they were trying to deceive me.

I thought to myself, what made me turn into that difficult person? Was it because I remember how tough it was for me as I rose through the ranks over the years, that seeing how slipshod the new generation of executives are, that perplexed me? Was I exhibiting displacement as a self-defense mechanism because I was having a tough time at work? Whatever the reasons, I didn’t like the person I had become. I constantly had to remind myself to check my ego at the door when I went into meetings. Did I become entitled?

A stubborn mind will fare badly at the end, and whoever loves danger will perish in it.
A stubborn mind will be burdened by troubles, and the sinner adds sin to sins.
There is no cure for the proud man’s malady, since an evil growth has taken root in him.

If these words don’t awaken us, and stir us from our lofty positions, then perhaps we are too far gone. I pray that we take heed. We have a role model in Jesus — He is the perfect example of humility. In a society when we are prone to being self-centered and trying to make the best name for ourselves, God has given us Jesus as the ideal example of putting the needs of others above our own.

Jesus is God. He is a King, the Son of Our Father. When we think of Kings, we have in mind all the ceremonial finery, subjects and servants at their beck and call, security all around them, castles and huge properties. Not Jesus. In His love for us, He came down to us from the comforts of His Father’s home, to be amongst His people. To teach, to guide and above all, to serve.

Jesus also gave us a guide on humility in today’s gospel.

When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.

But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of all the other guests.

The ultimate humility of Jesus is when He chose to suffer and die for us. He obeyed His father and allowed himself to die an embarrassing, humiliating and painful death to save us from our sins — my sins and yours!

We are called to follow Him in His humility. But I know that I will fall short. How could I fathom following that example? I simply cannot, I know it. Can we really emulate his example? The answer is no. The only person who is truly humble is Jesus; and because of His humility, He offers us salvation and forgiveness for all the times we fall short.

If we sincerely seek and ask, Jesus will help us be humble. While Jesus’ flawless humility was able to save others, our flawed humility can nevertheless inspire others to desire to learn more about our magnificent God!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Teach me to be humble Jesus. Help me not to be caught up in the ways of the world today and remember Your words — The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly; and then you will find favour with the Lord.

Thanksgiving: I pray with gratitude, that God the Father has sent us His Son as a perfect example of humility and love. Put into our hearts overflowing love that we can be humble enough to serve and help others.

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