30th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday (Year II)
Luke 14:1, 7-11
“One on tiptoe cannot stand.”Lao Tzu1
Even with special ballet training, medical experts say that dancing en pointe for extensive periods can cause severe injury and foot damage. Blisters, calluses, broken nails, sprained ankles, fractures, inflammation, pinched nerves and other complications may result. Standing or walking on tiptoes is not recommended for everyday life.
Lao Tzu’s verse, “One on tiptoe cannot stand,” is an image of pride and arrogance. Jesus also wanted to relieve the spiritual toes of his contemporaries by showing them how to walk humbly and take the lowest place.
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table” (Luke 14:1, 7-10).
The way up is down. As the Son of God emptied himself and took the form of a slave (Philippians 2:7), we must empty ourselves and let the Holy Spirit fill us with his fruits to find peace and joy (Galatians 5:22-23). Christ is our pattern and roadmap to eternal beatitude.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 14:11
Lao Tzu’s second verse reads, “One astride cannot walk,” an echo of the American idiom, “Get off your high horse!”
1 Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 24, translated by John C. H. Wu.