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Tuesday, 23 August 2022 16:50

Invitation to dinner

On a sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. He then told the guests a parable, because he had noticed how they picked the places of honour. He said this, ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honour. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited, and the person who invited you both may come and say, “Give up your place to this man.” And then, to your embarrassment, you would have to go and take the lowest place. No; when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there, so that, when your host comes, he may say, “My friend, move up higher.” In that way, everyone with you at the table will see you honoured. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’

Then he said to his host, ‘When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbours, for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means that you are fortunate, because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again.’ (Luke 14:1,7-14)

 

It’s no accident that the Gospels contain many instances of shared meals, weddings feasts and miraculous feeding. In the Scriptures, meals always have something to do with the great meal – the eternal wedding feast.

We celebrate the sacred meal of the Eucharist anticipating the eternal feast of continual communion with God.

In this Gospel episode, Jesus has been invited to a meal at the home of a leading Pharisee. Luke tells us that they watched Jesus closely. No doubt, they are trying to make up their minds about him and his teaching.

Jesus, too, is watching closely and observes how those at the meal readily chose the places of honour for themselves. The fact that Luke calls the words of Jesus a ‘parable’ alerts us to the fact that this is more than just good advice about how to avoid embarrassment at a dinner party in the ancient world.

It turns out that the parable is about the feast in the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom the usual conventions of this world are completely reversed, such that those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted; the last will be first, and the first last.

It is not wealth, power and social status that gains us a high place at the eternal feast, but the good treatment (humble service) of the most disadvantaged. Being hospitable to the poor and disadvantaged now gains a person the only welcome that truly matters: the welcome into the everlasting hospitality of God.

The true disciple acts towards others with the same largeness of heart as God. Humility enables us to be open to God’s heart, and gentleness is the way of imitating his love. 

Download to read or print our Celebrating At Home prayers, reading and reflection for this Sunday:

pdf Celebrating At Home 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time [PDF] (3.14 MB)                                              
default Celebrating At Home 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time [ePub] (4.39 MB)

 

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