Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Church

Exhibiting Humility

by Rev. Dr. Mathew C. Chacko, New Jersey

Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

Gospel Reading: Luke 14: 7 - 11

14: 7 And He put forth a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose out the chief places, saying to them, 8 When you are invited by anyone to a wedding, do not recline in the chief seat, lest a more honorable man than you may be invited by him. 9 And he who invited you and him shall come and say to you, Give place to this man; and then you begin with shame to take the last place.

10 But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may say to you, Friend, go up higher. Then glory shall be to you before those reclining with you.

11 For whoever exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.


Verse 14 "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled; and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

This Sunday is the last Sunday in the Season of Pentecost. And the Gospel reading is appropriate to the beginning of another Church Season, the Season of the Mother of God, which begins with the Fifteen Days Fast in the name of the God Bearer - Theotokos. It culminates on the Feast of the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God - Mathavinte Vaangippu Perunal.

August 1st to September 13 should be marked as the Days of the Mother of God and the Wednesday Morning Prayers for Sunday morning should begin from Sunday in August rather than on Sunday after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14. Sundays after August 15 are called the Sundays after the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God until the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This is my recommendation for a future Synod of our Church to consider and enact.

Our Church remembers Mary as the one who humbled herself most. We sing:

"Aarum uyartha-ppetti-llithupol athinal spashtom, Mariyme pol aarum thazhthappettittilla."

(No one is exalted like Mary and therefore it is true that no one has humbled himself/herself like Mary.)

By singing this hymn we are taught to follow her example of humility in dressing, in conversation, in writing and in our relationship with others. Very often we teach, but we don't learn. May this reading and listening of this passage of Scripture teach me and you to take to heart the example of Mary and be truly humble!

The story of those who seek higher and more important places in a banquet or a public place is familiar to all of us. To be seen in public with important person adds to one's image and place in society. It gives importance to that person's place in that community and most everyone desire that. Religious leaders always get this recognition by virtue of their position. They get even more importance by the symbols that they wear in public. All these are counted as vanities in Jesus' sight.

Our Church, like any other human society, is guilty of this. Even a casual observer can see the "seeking and getting positions of power" in the Church. This is true of securing administrative position in a parish, a diocese or on a larger scale. While some are guilty of seeking and obtaining higher recognition and seemingly powerful positions, others are perhaps guilty of being spiteful of it. When the desire to serve and care are not the motivation behind the ministry of the Church, never ending fighting and litigation will be the outcome. "The Son of Man came not to be served..." somehow did not impress upon our hearts and minds. Whatever justification one can give for this condition, action speaks louder than words!

What is true humility?

The Sermon on the Mount defines the humble as "the poor in spirit". Merriam Webster Dictionary defines humility [adverb] as "lacking all signs of pride." While we realize that this is an ideal and no one can live up to it. Also we know that we are called upon to follow Jesus in his regard as well.

Elisabeth [Luke 1:43, John the Baptist [Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16], Cornelius [Acts 10:33], Apostles Paul [Romans 1:12; 16:7], Peter [Luke 5:8; 1 Peter 5:1] and John [Revelation 1:9] are exemplified as humble in the New Testament. Perhaps these references can teach us something.

Who has shown true humility in your community? One person stands high in my memory as example of a truly humble person in our recent past, Pathrose Osthathios Metropolitan of Carmel Dayara. He was a father of our Church truly humble and gave himself completely to the vision God gave him. May the memory of this truly humble father enlighten our paths!

May God in His abundant mercies teach me and you what true humility is in and through our lives so that we may witness to God's love. As we worship and live in the season of the Mother of God, may her example and prayers strengthen us to follow Jesus, our Lord in our words and actions.

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