“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11).
Jesus is clearly outlining in today’s Gospel that we are not, nor ought we strive, to be the center and focus of the universe. God is. Understanding this foundational point is key to living a life of fulfillment and happiness. This message is definitely counter intuitive in much of modern society where wealth, honor and fame, the lifting up of the self in having primacy of place, is primary pursuit.
Anything we place before God is an idol, and we let us down and leave us hungry, thirsty, and empty. If we buy into playing the game of the ego-drama, we will seek more and more money, attention, and more adulation, and time again be left wanting. Even for many of us who are not fully aware of this pursuit unconsciously may be placing other finite realities before our relationship with God and continue to feel restless, unsettled, and anxious.
There is no magic bullet we can take, no program to enroll in, no three point plan to implement to experience God. We just need to turn to God as we are and where we are. God loves us more than we can every imagine, more than we can ever mess up, and is closer to us than we are to ourselves. Swiss theologian, Hans urs Von Balthasar (1905-1988) encouraged us to turn away from game of the ego-drama of seeking ways to keep the focus on us, and instead assume our role in the great Theo-drama. When we find our role in God’s plan we then begin to know who we are.
The acknowledgement of our desire to know God and willingness to seek his will for our life is already a yes to the invitation of the creator of all of the cosmos who seeks an intimate and unique relationship with us. Entering into union with God will develop like any other authentic relationship, by answering the invitation of being drawn beyond and outside of our self to another. Then through time, shared experiences, and commitment we come to know each other better.
As God reaches out to us and as we respond by reaching out to him, as we resist the temptation to force God into our own finite and limited perspective and instead allow God to draw us into himself, into his infinite nature, we will be exalted, we will find meaning and fulfillment. We will experience a life of joy in our service of God and one another.