Humble yourself and you will find favor with God
The just rejoice and exult before God.
You have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.
When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
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 honor at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor.
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 every one 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 neighbors,
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.”
Background on the Gospel Reading
Meals played an important role in the society in which Jesus lived. More than a time for sharing nourishment, they were a time to share ideas and to model different aspects of social relationships. In Luke’s Gospel, the places that a person ate (at the home of a tax collector, 5:29), the people with whom a person ate (sinners, 5:30), whether a person washed before eating (11:38), and, as is the case here, the place that a person sits while eating are all important. The narrator says Jesus tells a parable, but it is really wise advice to both guests and hosts about finding true happiness at the heavenly banquet.
Jesus warns guests to wait before taking their places at the table lest they be asked to move if someone more important arrives. This is more than just a lesson about dinner etiquette. It is advice on how to find your true place in the Kingdom of God. Jesus advises hosts not to invite people who would be expected to repay them to dinner but to invite those who could not repay: the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. This is where real blessings can be found.
In these sayings, Luke gives us not only advice on how to approach the end times but also on how to live according to Jesus’ vision of a good society. Luke’s Gospel also advises us how the Church must be part of bringing about this society. It is yet another example in Luke’s Gospel of the reversal the kingdom brings about.
Parents and children often enter into “negotiations” over how much allowance is to be earned at certain ages. Typically, when a child seeks an increase in allowance, parents will attach an increase in chores and responsibilities for them to better earn the increase. Talk about what kind of allowance you received as a child and what kind of responsibilities your parents expected of you to earn your allowance.
Explain that in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus talks about doing good deeds for others and expecting nothing in return. Read aloud Luke 14:1,7-14. Ask your children how they would feel if you told them to take on more chores without ever expecting another raise in allowance. Emphasize that Jesus teaches us that it is our duty as his followers to take care of the needs of others and to do so without expecting repayment. Discuss what other types of rewards we can find when doing good things for others.
Point out that we sometimes fall into the trap of wanting too many things and that, in the Our Father, we pray for “our daily bread,” meaning that we pray for only that which we really need in life. Conclude this time together by praying aloud the Our Father.
Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings