Sunday, August 29, 2010

On humility, equality, and greatness

"For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised." (Luke 14:1; 7-11)

I remember a talk from q
uite a long time ago wherein the speaker illustrated the equal dignity of men before the eyes of God. He produced a worn-out twenty-peso bill, crumpled it in his hands, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it a few times.He then picked up the crumpled but still intact bill and asked the audience: "How much do you think is this bill worth?"
The audience was unanimous in responding that the bill was still worth twenty pesos, its face value.The speaker then took out a fresh, crisp, twenty-peso bill from his wallet and asked t
he audience the same question.
"How much do you think this bill is worth?"

He had made his point.

In this Sunday's Gospel (Lk 14:1; 7-11), Jesus teaches us the virtue of humility. It is a dominant theme in the Scriptures. The meek shall inherit the earth. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. H
umility comes before honor.The greatest among you shall serve. The last shall be the first. Whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled. Whoever humbles himself will be raised.

I suppose some of you got wind of the recent hostage crisis that ended tragically here in Manila. The victims were tourists from Hongkong. The hostage taker had a wounded pride that led him to commit such a carnage. Whether he is in his right mind, we do not know.What we do know is that eight people were killed in that tragic affair.Among the victims were a family of five, with dual Chinese-Canadian citizenship. The husband died trying to protect his family.Two daughters died by the hostage-taker's bullets. The only son is in critical condition. The wife somehow survived and said "I thought I would fight for survival so I could take care of my children, but two of them have already died.".

These victims are not just tourists, nor Hongkongers, nor Canadians. More than that, they are children of God made in His own image.Let us pray for all the victims and all the aggrieved relatives. Let us pray that people see beyond their individual pride. Let us pray that people value lives and equal dignity among men, for humility to reign, that people value and cherish people's lives above and beyond their personal travails. God will raise these people.

My wife, my youngest child and I just arrived from the ci
ty of Davao in Mindanao in a brief visit to attend a wedding. Yesterday, we had breakfast at a McDonalds outlet near Apo View Hotel. I notice these two skinny, shabbily dressed street children near the door. While lining up at the counter, I decide to buy them some food. Later while still in the queue, I glance back towards them and I notice that a lady took kindly on them, invited them inside, and has already bought and served them some food. The kind-hearted lady was a step ahead of me. While I just wanted to give the street children some food, she went ahead and invited the children in, bought them food, and even served them. And so I remembered the lesson from that speaker's talk of long ago.

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