Gospel of Luke 14:1, 7-14
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, `Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, `Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Let us Pray: Redeeming Sustainer, visit your people and pour out your strength and courage upon us, that we may hurry to make you welcome not only in our concern for others, but by serving them generously and faithfully in your name. This we pray in your name. Amen.
In today’s world, individuals strive for fame, fortune, power, and status every day. The people who have achieved any of these advantages typically are held in high esteem. We see this everyday where people are trying to outdo each other, usually at the cost to others. However, Jesus completely reverses this idea. He proposes that it is always best to choose a lower place rather than a higher place. Thus, you will never be embarrassed by being asked to move to a lower place, and possibly you may be invited to move up to a higher place. Jesus warns guests to wait before taking their places at the table lest they be asked to move if someone more important arrives. This is more than just a lesson about dinner etiquette. It is about how we act in our world today and how we recognize the Kingdom of God.
Status seeking is rampant in our world. It is also advice on how to live according to Jesus’ vision of a good society. Many people seek fame, power, and recognition. However, there also are many individuals who live their lives quietly and simply. They are content with God, family, friends, and a simple lifestyle. Fame may look glamorous. However, almost every day in the newspaper or on television we hear stories of how the famous and the glamorous have fallen or been disgraced, often by their own choices.
Today Jesus encourages us to be content with what seems to be quiet and joyful. Often it is in the small and seemingly insignificant gifts of everyday life where we may experience the greatest love, joy, peace, and contentment. Today, be mindful and notice the many small gifts you receive. Thank the giver and thank God!
As this gospel is centered around a meal, we see that meals played an important role in the society in which Jesus lived. More than a time for sharing nourishment, they were a time to share ideas and to model different aspects of social relationships. It was closely watched with whom a person ate, whether a person washed before eating and, as is the case here, the place that a person sits while eating is important. Jesus advises hosts not to invite people who would be expected to repay them for dinner but to invite those who could not repay: the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. This is where real blessings can be found.
The narrator says Jesus tells a parable, but it is really wise advice to both guests and hosts about being humble and finding true happiness at the heavenly banquet.
Let us Pray: Almighty God, in your goodness, you provide for the needy. Remove from your people the pride of place and the pursuit of power that mocks humility. Open our hearts in generosity and justice to the neglected and lonely, that in showing esteem for others, we may honor and please you through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Amen.