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October 29th Readings Reflection: Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.
He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. “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. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives a parable on the importance of humility. He was dining at the home of “one of the leading Pharisees,” and there were other guests in attendance. From the context, we can conclude that many – if not most – of the guests were higher members of society, for they chose “the places of honor at the table” when they arrived. This is what prompted Jesus to tell this parable on the importance of humility. Jesus told them to choose the lowest place at the table, lest they be humiliated in having to give their place of honour to someone higher than they. While this in itself might seem humiliating, Jesus gives them hope for a reward: being asked to move to a higher position from the lowly place they had taken.
As Catholics, we understand the deeper meaning in this parable. Jesus is not talking merely about places at earthly tables; He is talking about the way we should conduct ourselves in everyday life. St. Thomas Aquinas defined humility as “keeping oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior.” The humble person recognizes that without God, he is nothing, and consequently does not seek to exalt himself in any way.
Pride is often called the root of all evil, because it is the vice with which human beings struggle the most and which most often leads them to commit other sins. Being directly contrary to pride, humility is not an easy virtue to cultivate, but it is vitally important in advancing on the path of salvation. If we are last in the world’s eyes through our humility, we shall be first in the Kingdom of God.
Yesterday, the Church celebrated the feast of Saints Simon and Jude, both of whom were counted among the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. While very little is known about them, we know that both saints were martyred for their Faith. St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes and is thus often invoked for his miraculous intercession before God.
The lives of these two saints are a powerful witness to the message about humility in today’s Gospel. We know practically nothing about their earthly lives, except that they were followers of Jesus to whom God chose to give the crowns of martyrdom. Their obscure lives should serve as an example to us, showing that only one thing is important in our lives: how much we love God and our neighbour. Love is what gives humility its purpose and meaning, and at the end of our lives, the reward that we shall receive for being humble is the joy of possessing the fullness of Love in Heaven for eternity.
Saints Simon and Jude, ora pro nobis!
 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. Rickaby, bk. IV, ch. lv, quoted in New Advent, “Humility.”