“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
Throughout his ministry, Jesus dined with many different people in various places. Jesus ate with a tax collector and a Pharisee, as in the reading today. He fed a crowd with a couple of fish and some loaves of bread and dined with his friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha. He attended wedding feasts and ate more privately with his disciples at the Last Supper.
These settings have one common feature: Jesus uses these mealtimes to teach others. When he went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, we are told that he was carefully watched. Perhaps some of the other guests were interested in seeing where it was that Jesus chose to sit at the table. However, Jesus also observed that guests picked seats of honour at the table. Jesus chose this moment to talk about humility.
Our modern society generally sets little store by where we sit at a dinner table, so we are unlikely to suffer the humiliation of being moved to a less important place. However, Jesus’ words still hold a message for today, encouraging us to not overestimate our own importance but humbly accept who we are, and we know we are beloved children of God.
While Jesus understands the social hierarchy of his time, in the second part of this reading, he encourages his host to consider those in greatest need, the poor or those with disabilities, and invite them to dine. Unlike close friends and relatives, it is unlikely they can return the favour; however, humbly inviting them will provide happiness for those in need as well as their host.
This is exactly how God receives us. We will never be able to repay the grace and mercy offered to us. Humbly and thankfully, we accept.
Lord, I thank you for being Your child. Let me reach out to others to show them the “high station” that You give in the free gift of salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.