The Humble Will be Exalted
On the thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells us to be humble:
“…everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” -Luke 8:14, NAB
Christ’s words at the end of this week’s Gospel verse capture the basic moral of the story. After telling a parable about a proud Pharisee and a humble tax collector, we learn that the humble will be exalted by God.
The parable begins as two men enter the temple to pray. The first was a Pharisee who thought that he was a righteous man above the sinners around him. He thanked God for not being “like the rest of humanity (Luke 18:11).”
The tax collector, a sinner, took the opposite approach. He came to the temple begging for God’s mercy. Realizing that he was a sinful man, he humbly asked for God’s forgiveness.
At the beginning of the verse, we are told that Jesus “addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else (Luke 18:9).” This, of course, extends to those people today. If anyone is convinced of their righteousness, they will be humbled.
It’s not uncommon to see this. Have you met someone convinced of their own righteousness? Have you seen them judge others? There are some in our faith community that look down on others for not living up to the same moral standard as we do. Hopefully, this doesn’t describe you or me!
As we grow in faith, we often begin to get our lives in order – including our moral character. Following the law and becoming less of a sinner may seem easier. But if we take too much self-satisfaction in our ability to follow our religious views, we are actually falling to a different sin: pride.
The Gospel is clear: the proud will be humbled, and the humble will be exalted. Let go of your pride, admit that you are a sinner, and seek God’s mercy and forgiveness. It is far better to be a repentant sinner than a proud righteous man.