WORD ALIVE by Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD September 1, 2019 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
There’s an amusing fable about a smart dog who talked out his two friend-ducks to fly him from north to south. The dog prepared for the trip by tying the ends of a long, stout cord to each of the duck’s necks. With his strong jaws he grabbed the cord at its middle and the trio took off.
The journey was going well until someone on the ground looked up and, marveling at the ingenuity, he shouted, “Hey, that’s terrific! Whose idea is it?” In his eagerness to grab the credit, the proud dog opened his mouth to say “M-I-N-E!” letting go of his bite… And the man on the ground had dog meat for supper!
That fable might well illustrate Jesus’ teaching in the gospel lesson in this 22nd Sunday: “Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Lk 14, 11). The Lord goes further to elaborate, “When you go to a party, sit in the lowest place.”
Obviously those words are not to be taken literally, otherwise nobody would sit in the “cabisera” or presidential table. Everybody would be grabbing for the last chair! What Jesus meant is a conscious effort to consider oneself always lower to others or to avoid blowing one’s own horn.
As the book of Sirach puts it: “The greater you are, the more humble you should behave, then you will find favor with the Lord” (Sir 3,18–first reading).
DESCENDING TO THE TOP. Steve Jobs, who passed away not so long ago, was a visionary in communication technology, the founder of Apple computers and inventor of such devices as the Iphone, Ipad and others. But did you know that he was booted out of the company he co-founded?
While he was rising to the top, all he thought about was how great he was and how the world and his company revolved around him. The higher he got, the bigger his head became.
After that misfortune, Jobs came to his senses and decided to change. When the company which dismissed him heard of his “conversion,” he was invited to lead the company again. He humbly admitted: “I cannot do it alone; I can only do it with a team.”
He now understood that it was really the many others who helped him succeed. He wasn’t brash or cocky anymore. He realized that the higher you fly, the LOWER your ego should be. That’s what “descending to the top” means.
It is not only God who values humility but also Filipinos in general. If one puts himself up, the Filipino tends to put him down, and vice versa. The Filipino has the trait of identifying himself with the “mahina,” the “dejado,” the “underdog.
HUMILITY IS TRUTH. Let’s not misunderstand the virtue of humility. Being humble doesn’t mean suppression of one’s personal attributes or an abject self-depreciation. It doesn’t consist in a beautiful woman calling herself ugly or in an intelligent man calling himself stupid otherwise it’s false humility.
Remember the thanksgiving canticle of the Virgin Mary, “Magnificat”? She openly declared, “Henceforth all generations shall call me blessed”? And Christ who proclaimed, “Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart,” did not hesitate to say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
But even in his most triumphant moments, the humble man remembers that all he is and all that he has, is from God. He does not mistake the gifts of God for his own sole achievement. “He who humbles himself shall be exalted.”
A certain benefactor, Mr. Salvador Monroy, once wrote me, “I give because my money did not come from me alone but from God. My life in this world is limited. I have to prepare for the inevitable. I’m doing this by sharing the blessings I received from God.”
How about emulating Mr. Monroy? Chip in an amount or sponsor a seminarian’s schooling for one year. For inquiry, e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOD BLESS…the latest donors to our scholarship program: Cristina Guzman, Fe Vilar, Ana Santos, Jo Valencia.