Aloha Friday Message – August 26, 2016 – Salutations!

1635AFC082616 – Salutations!

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Luke 14:1111 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Aloha pumehana, ʻŌmea (Warmest greetings, Belovéd). This verse is part of a short lesson given by Jesus on the occasion of a dinner party. The Gospel of Luke uses many references to meals as he tells us about Jesus’ ministry – ten in fact. This particular meal is at the home of “the leader of the Pharisees.” It was an opportunity for the Pharisees and the community to watch Jesus closely to see how he behaved in such prestigious company. They forgot, however, that he was watching them. He saw them entering the banquet and seeking out the places of honor, looking for recognition from their peers and underlings, and putting on the appearance of false modesty. Jesus told them, gently but firmly, “Now cut that out!”

Ah, Belovéd, we all like the recognition we get from others. We love to be greeted, to be honored, to be loved by all just because we are so darn lovable. We want praise, acclaim, honor, homage, salutations, and recognition. We don’t mind being famous-for-being-famous. The spotlight always looks better when it is focused on us. Who better to be acknowledged by all than us? Jesus shows us how quickly that can backfire. He tells us in Luke 14:8-9 ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place”, and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.’ Remember last week? We looked at Luke 13:30 30 Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” This is the same approach. Jesus is reminding these very important men that being important isn’t as important as being humble rather than prideful.

Pride – hubris (ὕβρις) – is the personal conviction that one is better than anyone else. The prideful person believes s/he can do more things, better things, and expects to be admired by others as much as s/he admires himself/herself. Pride is a perversion of love and a lack of humility. Pride often feigns humility with the intent of gaining more praise. Pride leads to hatred and contempt of others and in its worst form makes the proud person indifferent to everyone – even those whose obsequious behaviors feed that pride. Prideful people are preoccupied with themselves, their life, their possessions, their abilities, their appearance; everything is me, me, me. Take a look at Isaiah 14:12-15 to see what brought down an angel of God. (Seriously, use the link.) Then consider how often Israel was referred to as a “stiff-necked people.” Make an image in your mind of a prideful person, and you will see their neck stiff, eyes haughty, nose up as if it would kill them to have to look down at the rest of us. Pride excludes everyone and everything, is jealous of all that is good, and loves all that confirms one’s self – including, in particular, evil. For the prideful, only they themselves and what they do is superbly superior. But God shows us that Pride is conquered by Humility.

Humility is the recognition that one is imperfect and, because of this, lowers her/his view of himself/herself in comparison to others. This kind of meekness is characterized by the world as being overly modest, timid, submissive, weak, tepid, or just plain stupid. The humble person is aware that any and all goodness – good things, good qualities, and good actions – arise from divine Grace rather than personal effort. It is the product of love – a threefold love that balances one’s disposition to [1] the divine, [2] to self, and [3] to others in ways that seek to mend rather than sunder, to include rather than exclude, and to accept rather than reject.

JustRSVPIn this meal-story in verses 12-14, we read – 12 He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’ The lesson he wants to teach the Pharisees has two parts: [1] Be truly humble, and that will lead to truer praise. [2] Be openly inclusive of everyone, and God himself will enrich you.

One must take care, though, not to be completely without pride in one’s self. Personal dignity, self-respect, and healthy self-esteem are essential to healthy living. We often have difficulty remembering that we are the branches and Christ is the vine, we are the leaves and he is the roots. Healthy self-esteem recognizes that all that we are, all that we have, all that we do – every moment of every day – is given to us by the Goodness of God. When we boast – to others and/or or to ourselves – that we have done such-and-such, or we are thus-and-so, then we err by failing to glorify God rather than ourselves. As St. Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. We are our best selves when we say, with true conviction, “I have immersed my life in His Heart so that my heart can be entirely filled with Him.” There is little in us about which we can boast if all that is in us is just us. Past, present, and future; thoughts, words, and deeds; works and prayers, joys and sorrows, victories and defeats – all belong to God for they are all from God. We forget that more often than we usually will admit, and get puffed up over our own self-deceptions.

There is a great illustration of this in Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Another great lesson, one that is quoted often, is found in Proverbs 16:18 18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. In Isaiah 10:12-19, (this is a great link to use) we read about how the King of Assyria convinced himself that he was the ultimate ruler, warrior, sage, and conqueror. He figured everything he had accomplished was because he was so superior to everyone else. He failed to realize that the reason he was so successful was because God used him as a tool to bring correction to Israel and her neighbors. God says, (see verse 15 in the link), “15 Shall the axe vaunt itself over the one who wields it, or the saw magnify itself against the one who handles it? As if a rod should raise the one who lifts it up, or as if a staff should lift the one who is not wood!” What good we do, who we are good to and good for, what we have that is good, all that we will become in goodness – it is all God’s doing. Having that awareness is what enables genuine humility. Genuine humility is the wellspring of holiness, and those who are truly holy are also truly humble. That is also a very healthy form of self-esteem because it centers us in all our relationships with God and each other. We all want a salutation – a salute, an acknowledgement, a gesture of recognition. That, in itself, is a healthy human need. When we satisfy that need as God intended, our lives are harmonious with him and with each other. There is a passage in the Wisdom book called Sirach which speaks to the life we can expect when we live as humble servants instead of exalted masters.

Sirach 3:17-18 17 My child, perform your tasks with humility; then you will be loved by those whom God accepts. 18 The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself; so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Pray for the people – ALL the people!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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