I remember when I was still living in Rome I had many occasions to be present for a celebration presided over by the Pope. As the Pope passed close to the people there were cameras everywhere. People not only took pictures of the Pope, but those who were close enough turned round to take a selfie with him in it. That way they could say when they returned home that they were close to the Pope.
Naturally, this could be said about any important person. We could swap the Pope with an actor, a politician, a famous sportsperson. What matters is that I have proof that I met that famous person. Mind you, even I have a couple of photos with Pope Francis, and am very happy with them! Feeling important, feeling great, is something secretly lurking inside each one of us. And if I am not an important person myself, rubbing shoulders with someone who is somehow rubs off!
When you think about it, there might be a reason for this. Because, yes, we are important. First of all, remember that you are God’s work of art, God’s masterpiece. That’s what St Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians. Just imagine God, like a great artist, the day you were born looking at you and saying, “Wow, I made that!” Remember this when you feel bad about yourself. Then there is the fact that we are God’s children. Nothing can change that. Irrespective of what you’ve done in your life, you are a child of God, His son or His daughter. Often in life children of important people use this birth-privilege of theirs to their advantage, saying, “I am the son/daughter of so-and-so”! What greater privilege is there than being the child of God?
In today’s gospel Jesus was invited to a meal, and there was a number of important people there too. Not surprisingly, some of the guests were seeking places where they could feel important. As always, Jesus takes this opportunity to teach those around him. It is not how people see you that is important. This world’s glory quickly vanishes … “whoever exalts himself will be humbled,” he tells them.
There is no need trying to feel important in this world. You already are. Once we become aware of it, we only have to live it. As a son, I inherit a lot of my father’s characteristics. We know what God’s characteristics are, because they were lived out by Jesus: loving everybody, forgiveness, humility, helping others, giving without counting the cost. That is why Jesus goes on to tell his listeners that, when they throw a party, they should invite people who would not be able to repay them back. The followers of Jesus are not people who seek accolades from other people. Indeed, they do not need them. What matters is their relationship with the Father.