Trinity 17
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
September 18, 2016
Central Passage
Luke 14:1-11

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

It is written that the Lord leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way (Ps. 25:9).

The Lord leads you in what is right and teaches you his way. Why? Because those that exalt themselves He will humble and those that humble themselves, He will exalt. Therefore, seek humility. It is a fruit of the Spirit.

But how does one seek humility? It does seem as though if we actively seek humility then we will actually be seeking exaltation. But we are called to seek both. St. Paul instructs us to run the race, to press on toward the goal of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus. The two are not mutually exclusive. And both require practice and even hard work.

It takes faith to foster and nurture humility. It takes the Holy Spirit as He does not act through us or in us without faith, even as He Himself gives us the faith. Which is to say that He enlightens us to the truth about God in Christ Jesus. In a very real way, all faith is is the confession of the truth about God in Christ. Not just the historical truths, but the truth that the Lord is even now saving us from sin and death and is even now reconciling us to Himself in His Body that once hung upon the tree.

And because humility is born of faith and requires effort, so, too, does it require prayer. In fact, prayer is the only way to achieve humility. I know that sounds odd, to achieve humility, but that’s accurate. That doesn’t mean you’ll boast in your humility. In fact, when you achieve it you will most likely not even know it.

Prayer is the path to humility, proper prayer, anyway, because prayer is communication, even communion with God. When we talk to our friends we look at them and listen and speak and are engaged with them in a way that is deeper than mere words. Our body language, our facial expressions, our tone of of voice, all of it is how we communicate with one another. So it is with the Lord. And when we talk with our friends we also talk to them in a way that comes from our friendship with them. The closer the friend the more we discuss everything from the trivial to the important, and everything in between. There is no friend closer than the Lord who loves you and calls you His friend. Or than your heavenly Father who calls you His child. Or the Holy Spirit who shares with you His divine life, the life of Christ.

So your prayers to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are born of your friendship with Him; a friendship He initiated and He sustains. Lord, have mercy.

Now at the risk of ruining it, did you see what happened here? Humility was born. There was no putting yourself forward in the presence of the King, even though the King is your friend. There was no posturing before others to show off your friendship to the King. There was humility. Taking the lowest seat is taking the right seat. And your seat is before God because God put you there.

Of course, there is danger here, as there is everywhere. The danger is that we will think we are praying and being humble when we are doing neither. We cannot pray and so we cannot be humble if we do not know God. And the only way to know God is to know Jesus, the Son of God. And the only way to know Him is to hear  His apostles, gather with His Body, the Church, and receive from Him His Holy Communion with us. In other words, nothing has changed. And that’s to be expected because God doesn’t change.

Those who are proud and Pharisee-like are, at the heart of the matter, those who deny the word of the Lord and put their own word forward. They put themselves in the seat of judgment over what the apostles have written and thus over what the Lord Himself teaches. They think to be masters when they have never even been proper students.

To be in proper prayer one must know God. And those who know God are those to whom the Son has chosen to reveal Him and are filled with the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees knew about God, but they did not know Him. The man with dropsy knew God. He was the One who healed on the Sabbath and called him a “son”.

Your God heals you. He restores you. He lifts you up out of the curse of death. He promises you eternal life. And He is good on His word since He Himself is risen from the dead. And He seeks communion with you. You have have a disease now, such as dropsy or cancer or Alzheimer’s; you may be burying your loved ones know. But there will come a day when disease and sickness, and yes even death will be no more. So we press on toward the goal of the upward calling in Christ Jesus, we His humble servants, praying, hearing, listening, and rejoicing in Him who is our friend.

+ In Nomine Iesu +