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The Table of Humility

Jesus told a parable about humility when invited to a banquet, he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor at the table (Lk 14:1, 7-14). At the parable's end, Jesus shows us how well he knows our human nature when he points out the words that each of us longs to hear: “My friend, move up to a higher position.” Christian humility is not about hiding our talents or denying our need for the love and respect of others. True humility is a path of self-knowledge and simplicity that sets us free, as St. Paul puts it, “It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself” (1 Cor. 4:1-5).

In the Gospels, Jesus often presents the Kingdom as a banquet, a grand celebration. A clear message in these parables is that we don’t have to compete with each other because at this table all are fed. According to the monastic approach, the path that leads to the feast begins as we leave our pride behind and move forward in the humble simplicity which is self-knowledge: “For all of us in the beginning of our conversion no virtue is more necessary than humble simplicity” (St Bernard of Clairvaux).

The prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32) found his way back home because he simply recognized that he was hungry. He was able to receive the gift of sonship that his father offered him in mercy and joined the party because he was not looking for a place of honor but only a seat at the table of humility. 


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