Christian Herter was the governor of Massachusetts in the 1950’s the story is told of a time when he was campaigning, when he came across someone whom he was about to ignore, but found himself having to notice. Apparently, he was having a really hard day campaigning, missed his lunch and came in the late afternoon to a church barbeque, really hungry. As he moved down the serving line, the story goes, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line.
"Excuse me," the governor said. "Do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?"
"Sorry," the woman told him. "I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person."
"But I’m starved," the governor said.
"Sorry," the woman said again. "Only one to a customer."
Governor Herter was apparently a modest and unassuming man but he decided this time he would throw a little weight around.
"Do you know who I am?" he said to this woman. "I’m the governor of the state."
"Do you know who I am?" the woman replied. "I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along mister," she said.
Well, it’s clear that the Governor must have told the story on himself so he apparently learned the lesson! But sometimes we don’t notice "the lady in charge of the chicken" – or the waiter at the table, or the person in the kitchen, or the clerk at the counter, or as Jesus points out, the poor or the crippled or the lame or the blind or the homebound or the illiterate, those who are out of sight, who hide as much as they can their problem, who fade away from our recognition. According to Jesus and his stories, the humble person has no inner need of that title or to pull rank, (though at times, I suppose, there is a time for that!) – but it’s not wrapped up in our sense of dignity. And the humble person notices other people, even if they seem to be way down at the bottom of the list.