On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Luke’s Gospel finds Jesus at dinner parties: at the table of Mary and Martha, at the house of Simon the Pharisee, and here again at a Pharisee’s home. In a few weeks, at the table of Zacchaeus. These meals are signs of the Kingdom. We grow in faith there, hearts are changed, like at the Last Supper or Emmaus. We learn to sort out our relationships and roles, like in this story. We are encouraged to be inclusive, toward one another and toward outsiders, the marginal. All this happens because Christ is powerfully present at the table. We even come to forgive.n
How do you feel attending a dinner? With family, I can find my way. With new people, I wait to see what happens. I don’t want to find myself next to somebody I don’t know. I like place cards. It’s so easy at Church, that Sunday table, where I can hug the wall or sit with friends or fade away at the back. So yes, I manage dinners to suit myself, my prevailing mood.
Somehow the expectation of Jesus, inviting me, is that I’m going to meet persons from other parts of life, with needs I can start to understand, an immigrant even, a disabled child, a widow in grief, the stranger. I am called to notice even who is not here, to wonder about that, to reach out. It’s risky. But there it is, Sunday after Sunday, dining in the Kingdom, letting our lives change, becoming whole as we are gathered and fed.
—Fr. Richard Bollman, S.J., a Jesuit of the Chicago-Detroit province, has been the long-time pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel of Xavier University, Cincinnati. He now works with Xavier’s Center for Mission and Identity.
Lord, while it’s not unusual to be critical of people who “seek the place of honor,” it’s far more difficult to recognize this behavior in ourselves. Should we begin to covet recognition, we pray that your Spirit will keep us from rationalizing our motives. This day should the “seat of honor,” be within our glance, let us stay focused on what really matters — using our position, power, authority for your greater glory.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!