Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16/ Psalm 81:10-16/ Luke 14:1, 7–14
Love Based on Humility
Humility is the Essence of Good Works
I feel like philanthropy has become a fad or a tool for self-promotion for some privileged people. Some go to Africa for charity work and post on social media photos of themselves posing with the African children they went to help. Those children look objectified and these photos make a lot of people frown. It feels like their good work loses its values by bragging.
We also see politicians during election seasons going around kissing babies and visiting the marginalized to look like they care. There is a famous Bible verse in the Gospel of Matthew 6:3: “When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” This verse teaches us that the spirit of humility is the essence of doing good works.
As we have read in Hebrews, Christians are given different instructions related to living a Christian lifestyle. A lot of these instructions are about living in a loving relationship with others.
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as you were in prison with them,” and so on.
Remembering those in prison as if we were in prison with them is a perfect expression of compassion. If we can see the homeless as if we were living on the street with them, if we can see our transgender siblings as if we were also trapped in a wrong body like them, wouldn’t we be driven by our compassion for them, If we can begin to fathom their pain?
Lesson on Humility
In today’s gospel story, Jesus uses his current situation as a guest at a meal to teach a lesson on humility and hospitality.
A lot of people thought themselves important enough to take places of honor at the table. At this arrogance, Jesus teaches his friends to humble themselves. “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Furthermore, he teaches them to offer hospitality to those who cannot pay back, so that they cannot expect something in return, since good works should be based on compassionate love without any ulterior motives.
Following God’s Path Through Jesus
Jesus served the vulnerable members of his society. They certainly didn’t have the means to return the kindness. Instead, he inspired his followers to do the same for others. Since we believe that Jesus was from God, even God in human form, we also believe that his teachings are God’s will.
When we hear God’s voice in Psalm 81 lamenting Israel’s disobedience, and God’s wish that Israel would follow God’s path, we can understand it as the command to follow Jesus and his teachings. This psalm declares that if we follow God’s way, we will be fed with the finest of wheat and honey.
It reminds us of Jesus’ teaching to “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Following Jesus and living according to God’s kingdom values of compassion and justice should be our priority in life. Jesus that we learn from today’s story, and many many other stories of the Bible, teaches us to be humble and to treat each other with compassion, to love one another as ourselves.
God’s Community of Compassionate Love
The love of God’s kingdom is based on compassion, which is based on humility. Let us learn this love from Jesus and see all God’s creation as ourselves and fathom their pain by putting ourselves in their shoes. With this compassion, let us be generous towards others.
By loving each other with this humble and compassionate love, we will know that we belong to Jesus and to God’s reign for which he dedicated his life and died. With this love, let us be united family of God. Let us be God’s community of humble and compassionate love. Then, when we help those in need and fight for the marginalized, it will be purely because of our compassionate love for them.