What is the Parable of the Invited Guests about? (Luke 14:7-11)
- Is it about dining etiquette? No.
- Is it about how to avoid embarrassment? No.
- Is it a strategy to gain praise from others? Some people may pretend to be humble and intentionally sit at the lowest place in the hope of being asked to move to a higher place in order to gain praise from others? No.
The Parable of the Invited Guests is about humility. In this parable, Jesus teaches us that the humble person takes the lowest place.
When Jesus taught about humility, he also said:
- “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
- “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16)
Why did Jesus teach us about humility? Because without humility, we will not be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. St. Bernard once said that humility is necessary not only so that we can acquire other virtues, but because it is necessary for salvation. We cannot get to heaven through our own merit. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) When we come to Christ our Savior, we come as sinners and we must come to Him in humility. We acknowledge that we come to Him in need of salvation. In His mercy, He gives us the grace of forgiveness, which we receive with humble gratitude and we make a commitment to live our life for Him. Jesus said: “Enter through the narrow gate.” (Matthew 7:13) Indeed, the gate to heaven is so narrow that only the little ones can go through.
The Gospel of Luke 14:12-14 is about who we should invite as guests. In contrast to the parable of the invited guests, the second teaching goes against practical wisdom. After all, wouldn’t it be wiser to invite people whom we might be able to benefit from in the future? However, there is a two-fold benefit when we do good things for people who cannot repay us.
- We grow in charity. Our joy comes from our love for God and neighbor, therefore we grow in virtue.
- We store up treasure in heaven. Jesus said, “Store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Matthew 6:20-21)
Who said that humility is the mother of virtues?
- St. Augustine: Humility is the foundation of all the virtues; therefore, in a soul where it does not exist there can be no true virtue, but the mere appearance only.
- St. Thomas of Villanova: Humility is the mother of many virtues. From it comes obedience, holy fear, reverence, patience, modesty, mildness, and peace.
- St. Mother Teresa: Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent.
- If I am truly humble of heart, will I also be faithful and obedient to God’s word? Yes!
- If I am truly humble of heart, will I be pure in my thoughts, words and deeds? Yes!
- If I am truly humble of heart, will I be patient, kind and generous? Yes!
What is humility? Humility begins with God; if we cannot be humble before God, then we cannot be genuinely humble towards others. Being humble means to be where God wants you to be; being humble means to go where God wants you to go. Being humble means to do what God wants you to do.