On a sabbath 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, noticing how they were choosing the places of honour at the table. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honour. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. 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.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbours, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Lk 14:1, 7-14
Comment: It is surprising that the Pharisee can invite guests on a Saturday. But today’s story is not about the Sabbath. It is about humility and generosity. It is surprising that the guest is taking the lead here and reprimands the host. Jesus is not only preaching in the synagogue or at big events when he talks to a crowd. Rather, he seizes every occasion when he has reason to believe that somebody pays attention. Get togethers at feast days are such an occasion. Artists often enough complain that they are expected to perform, for example sing, when they are invited somewhere as a guest. Whoever accepts a ‘chic’ invitation as a VIP does not mind, rather might accept the invitation for that very reason. It is some sort of PR for them. In the case of Jesus countless examples prove that he did not hesitate to consider a celebration an occasion to teach and he improvises. He does not work from material that he brings along but rather adjusts to the given situation, like here. First, he tells those off who push themselves into the foreground. What might the host think of that? It is possible that he agrees with Jesus but would not have dared to admit to it openly, while at the same time he tries to push back those who intrude. Then Jesus praises those who might arrive late but are more esteemed. But before the host becomes to satisfied with himself, he also gets his tutorial. He who has invited Jesus with the hidden motive of making his house shine in the public eye, receives his lesson: as a selfless host he will not rely on the gratefulness of his invited guests but on God Himself. God will give the reward. This way the story could end with a happy ending after all ….
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 01.09.2019
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