Honour, Humility, Hospitality and Hope- How do we reimage them?

Homily – Sunday, the 28th August 2022

Reading: Luke 14:1, 7-14

Have we not been invited by others for a meal? Have we not invited several people?

Being Invited By Someone-

What does it actually mean? For you and for the person who invites you.

Should we invite others?

The Food Basket that we have outside the door, does that have anything to do with hospitality?.

The gospel text that we read compels us to constantly reimage some of the key principles of our life. Re-imaging is giving it fresh shades of meaning each time we look into it. I will draw your attention to four reimagings today.

Reimaging Honour

Context: Jesus is invited to the house of the leader of the Pharisees for a meal on the Sabbath day. He saw guests choosing places of honour.  Jesus shared with them a parable

‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, 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. 

Luke 14:8-9

The question around honour is basically about how do you place yourself in the honour hierarchy compared to the others around you. What makes us think we are superior to another?

We have debates on higher classes of people, higher castes of people, higher categorifies of people and all of us know that these are human made constructs or categories created by the powerful to satiate their own egos.

There is a story told about a factory fire in a workspace where about three thousand people worked. The fire was after the working hours and people were sure that there would not be much causalities. But the sergeant at the Security desk shouted Ms. Rose is still not gone out. The fire-brigade rushed into her chamber and rescued her. With no signing out in the security mechanism people wondered how did the Sergeant know that Rose was still in and asked him

He said- three thousand people walk in through these gates each day, only few of them greet us and a very few would shake hands and share a pleasentary. Ms. Rose would wait each evening. Shake hands and say bye and wish us a good evening. Today we were waiting for that and that did not come and we knew she had not left. And then he said- She knew how to honour ordinary people and make us feel valued and we valued her for that.

In Romans 12:10 Paul writes- Honour one another above yourselves. When we are able to place the other above yourselves then the whole approach to the other changes.

In Phil 2:3 we read Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Paul makes it clear that what makes you puffed up or arrogant is selfish ambition. He puts it clearly when he uses the word conceit. Honour comes from the ability to regard others as better. Honour is given and received in return.

Some people may be honoured because of the positions they hold and when they move people would not have sweet memories. Some people despite their relinquishing offices are honoured because they touched the hearts of people.

Jesus says- when you go to a banquet and see a place of honour do not misunderstand that that place is for you. There could be others more honourable in the experience of the host.

When Sankar Dayal Sarma the then President of India visited Bhutan as the plane touched down at the Paro airport the King of Bhutan walked up the plane and bowed before the President

Questions were asked about protocol and propriety but Jigme Sigme replied I walked in not to greet the President but my guru- teacher who transformed my life and the way I behaved as a human being when I was a University student under him. That is honouring another.

That is the secret of honour.

William Shakespeare writes

Give me a staff of honor for mine age,
But not a sceptre to control the world.
(Titus Andronicus- Acts 1, Scene 1)

Well, honor is the subject of my story.
(Julius Ceaser Act 1 Scene 2)

Reimaging Humility

10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher”; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’

from Luke 14

If you are able to consider every one else as worthy of more honour than you  you would offer them spaces of honour available if they could be categorised so. It requires humility.

Saint Augustine said , “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes humans as angels.”
True humility as Rick Warren beautifully puts it, is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.

“Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.” Writes Andrew Murray, in his book  Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness

Humility comes from the feeling of insufficiency of our self and own resources. Abraham Lincoln said “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”

Humility is also a pre-requisite to experience God.

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
says C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt, greater the humility. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” Suggests Robert Hughes

What then is humility?

It is the divine quality that helps you identify with the last, the least and the lost. Helps you be one among them and be the channel of God’s love and grace.

Reimaging Hospitality

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 neighbours, 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. 

from Luke 14

What is hospitality? It is defined as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, and primarily strangers. It is not always a banquet to your dear ones, it is extending your tent to include the other- specially the alien and the marginalised.

Isaiah 58:7 defines genuine fast and hospitality together Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

People will forget what you said or did but not how you made them feel and the most vulnerable moments of their lives

Peter defines the nature of Christian life in 1 Peter 4: 8-9

8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Right from the time the laws were formulated one of the expectations was clear as we read in Lev 19:34

34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

Divine expectation on the day of reckoning was also clarified by Jesus around the theme of hospitality

We read in Matthew 25: 42-46

42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

And in Romans 12:13 we read
13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

In this particular passage Jesus emphasises on the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind as the kind of people who should the focus of our hospitality.

Reimaging Hope

14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’

from Luke 14

The motif of the reward for the righteous acts we do and that assurance of the ressurection of the righteous are two pillars of hope along with love and grace of God that make life meaningful.

What is hope?

Emily Dickinson says

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”

Hope gives us strength

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Hope gives us joy and peace

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

We are often reminded that a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. And if these are centered around God there is nothing to beat it.

Hope helps us imagine a better future

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Hope helps us handle temporary dissappoinments

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

Hope reminds us of the day of reckoning and the day of rewards

for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’

Honour, Humility, Hospitality and Hope- How do we reimage them?

If you are willing and obedient you shall eat the good of the land

Our response is simple- Lord the Light of Your Love is Shining, In the midst of the darkness shining

Vinod Victor

August 7, 2022

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