On Friday I attended the Chief of Navy Chaplains change of office and retirement. It was quite the event. Bands played, sailors and marines marched, cannons saluted. There were so many generals and admirals present I was seeing stars, literally. At the reception after the ceremony, I noticed something about myself: I spent a lot more time talking with admirals and captains than I did with anyone else. I barely had time to say hello to lieutenants I knew, much less the waiters and other civilian employees who were serving us. Later on, when I read the gospel lesson for today, I was convicted.
In Luke 14:7-14 Jesus told a parable in which he said, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor. . . . Go sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’” (8, 10). There’s something intoxicating about being near power. It is ironic that the less power you have, the easier it is to get drunk with the wine of your own self importance.
To the hosts Jesus said, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (13, 14). Over the weekend my family and I hosted a newly selected admiral, an old friend of mine from the reserves. Nothing wrong with that, but am I also willing to roll out the red carpet for a lowly midshipman or enlisted sailor? And when have I ever intentionally sought out the financially impoverished and physically handicapped to show them hospitality?
Echoing Jesus’ sentiment, Benjamin Franklin said, “To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness.” Lord, grant me the nobility to show humility in my dealings with others. Amen.
For more thoughts on humility see my blog post The Descending Way.