22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C
Luke 14:1, 7-14
“For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
In our Sunday Gospel, Jesus is invited to dine in the home of one of the Pharisees. He tells a parable to the invited guests after witnessing them decide who would sit at the place of honor at the table. In those days, the seating arrangements at the table were very important. Guests who sat closest to the host were highly respected. The parable tells the story of a man who takes the place of highest honor at the banquet table, but is asked to give up his seat to another man of higher importance who was also invited.
After reading this, you may imagine the “walk of shame” and embarrassment felt by this man who was asked to give up his seat in front of his peers. To avoid this embarrassment, Jesus suggests we humble ourselves to a lower place, so that the host may say, “my friend, move up to a higher position,” and we can be honored and dine “with the esteem of your companions at the table.” After finishing the story, Jesus says, “for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” In other words, God will honor those who are humble, and will humble those who seize honor.
After reading this passage several times and reflecting on how I might humble myself in my own life, I was fixated most on what Jesus says in the second half of the Gospel passage, where He expands the idea of humility. He turns to those sitting with Him and advises them to invite not their friends to the table, but rather the outcasts in society and those who may not be able to repay them. There is nothing wrong with inviting your friends and family to dinner, however, those should not be the only people we invite. We must leave a spot at our table for those in need, for those who are forgotten, and those who may need our care, even if they cannot repay us. To the Pharisees, this would have been a shocking suggestion. To Jesus, however, this was normal. If God reaches out to all, we should do the same and our repayment will be great in Heaven.