RCL Year C, Proper 17
Sirach 10:12-18, Psalm 112, Hebrews 13:1-8 and 15-16,
Saint Luke 14:1 and 7-14

“The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord,”[1] words from the First Lesson. Pride usually is defined to be the desire to take the place of God. All human beings have a measure of desire to take the place of God. We are united in our pride. We may have it in a small amount or a large amount, but we all have it. And whatever the amount, we have a Savior in Jesus Christ who freely offered himself to receive the punishment of the pride of all human beings, past, present, and to come. The bad news is our pride; the good news is our Savior.

And in the Gospel today, we have both. We have our pride and our Savior. We see them both in the parable. Our pride finds expression in the guest at a wedding banquet who sits in the highest place. And our Savior in the parable recommends that the guest sit in the lowest place, so that if he is invited higher, his honor may be seen by all. Our pride urges us on, and our Savior holds us back. The two can work together for our benefit if we will let them. This is very good news.

And it is an example of a very great blessing. Our Savior is able to save us if we coöperate, if we let God be God and not allow our pride to put us in the place of God.

Some of you know a cleric who gained a reputation for being first in line at church dinners and lunches. No hint, no suggestion, no direct order deterred him from being first in line. And here is a second great blessing. People around him cared enough for him to be a Savior to him and to try to encourage him in a direction other than the direction that was his by nature. Many a suggestion that comes from a human Savior actually comes from the Lord.

And so, the First Lesson and the Gospel are about us, you and me. We have in whatever degree pride that urges us on in a direction that leads not to God. And we have a Savior who accepted our punishment and who tries to show us another way to live. We even have friends who speak the Savior’s words to us to show us a better way to live.

And finally, we have freedom to choose to be motivated by our pride or to be directed by our Savior. And our lives are measured by these choices over and over again, day in and day out, year by year. All of those choices over a lifetime will tend to one direction or the other. When you recollect the choices you have made, in what direction have they already taken you?

[1] Sirach 10:12. NRSV.