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, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. 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.’ For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
I was speaking to a young man just the other day who told me that his wife thinks he is the most unromantic man in the world! I was about to tell him the same thing before he brought it up.
If there is any word that is synonymous to life, it should be the word “surprise”. Life is surprise. It is not one surprise after another, for that might imply that there are some moments that are not surprising. No; rather, life is surprise. Life should not be. I should not be! In fact, nothing should be. And every time I go down this meditative path and reflect more and more on the incredible surprise that is life, then I must humble myself. I must get down on my knees and take my place, the place where I belong - the smallest seat at the furthest table at the great Host’s banquet.
But if life is surprise, then love is shocking! What happens? When I least expect it, the Lord calls me by name and invites me to sit by Him, to take the place of honor! How shocking! How mysterious! How loving! Love is what makes life shocking! That someone would want to spend their life with me! That someone would want to make a promise to me! That someone would want to be with me! Marriage, like the priesthood, is more than surprising – it is shocking!
Whoever humbles themselves will find life is surprise and love shocking!
This past Sunday, a couple that had been married for seventy-two years died one hour apart from each other. Gordon died at 3:38 pm. Norma died one hour later. They were both conscience when they arrived at the hospital, victims of a car accident. They insisted on being put in the same room and in the same bed so that they could hold each other’s hands. They were both in serious condition. They would not recover. While the doctors were working on them, Gordon and Norma were asking them to take care of the other. Then all of a sudden, Gordon stopped breathing. For a moment there was confusion in the room because his heart monitor continued to pick up a heartbeat. That’s when the doctors and nurses realized that the monitor was detecting his wife’s heartbeat through their clasped hand. Their son, Dennis, said, “Oh my gosh, Mom’s heart is beating through him.” Norma died an hour later.
Life is full of surprises, especially in life’s tragedies. But love takes the prize! It continues to shock us all, especially in life’s tragedies.
Christ's life is God's way of surprising (awing) us and shocking us. When He spoke, He surprised. When He performed miracles, He surprised. When He died, He surprised. When He rose from the dead, He surprised. But what shocks us is His unconditional and undying love for us! Life is surprise and love is shocking when you consider yourself unworthy of both of them.
Father, help us to live our lives not only as your Son lived His - surprisingly - but to love you and others as you love us: shockingly and unconditionally! May your Son's heart beat through ours so that ours will beat through each other. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.