1 One sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him. 7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 "When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, `Give place to this man,' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, `Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." 12 He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
Meditation: Who do you honor at your table? The Lord is ever ready to receive us at his table. As far as we can tell from the gospel accounts, Jesus never refused a dinner invitation! Why, in this particular instance, does Jesus lecture his host on who he should or shouldn't invite to dinner? Did his host expect some favor or reward from Jesus? Did he want to impress his neighbors with the honor of hosting the "miracle worker" from Galilee? Jesus' parable of the arrogant guest who attempts to upstage others at the wedding banquet echoes the warning in the Book of Proverbs: Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence or stand in the place of the great; for it is better to be told, 'Come up here,' than to be put lower in the presence of the prince'" (Proverbs 25:6-7). Jesus parable shows us the paradox of the kingdom: the last shall be first, and the first last. Pride estranges us from others and conceit in spiritual things alienates us from God. Humility frees the heart to love and serve others generously without prejudice, conceit, or favoritism. Jesus probes our hearts. Do you show favor and generosity to those who will repay you in kind? What about those who do not have the means to repay you — the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged? True generosity springs from a heart full of mercy and compassion. We cannot outgive God in his generosity towards us. Do you give freely as Jesus gives without expectation for personal gain or reward?
"Lord, fill me with gratitude for your boundless love and mercy towards
me. And purify my love for others that I may seek their good rather
than my own benefit or gain. Free me to love others as you love."