Saturday of week 30 of Ordinary Time – Gospel


Commentary on Luke 14:1, 7-11

Yesterday we saw how Jesus was invited to have a sabbath meal in the house of a Pharisee. We saw how the religious leaders present watched him to see if he would heal a sick man who was placed in front of him so that they could accuse him of breaking the sabbath law. The man was healed and Jesus’ accusers were reduced to silence.

The story continues today with Jesus commenting on the behaviour of the guests, each of whom vies for the honour of occupying the best places at the table. Speaking to them in the form of a parable, Jesus urges them to do the very opposite.

When invited to a wedding feast, it is quite dangerous, says Jesus, to go and take one of the best places because your host may come and ask you to give the place to someone else and you will lose a lot of face. On the contrary, says Jesus, make a point of going to the lowest place so that your host will come and say, “Please come and sit up here near me.” And you will get the admiration (and perhaps the envy) of your fellow-guests. (Of course, for someone with the mindset of the Pharisees, it was a risky thing to do. One might be left sitting at the bottom table!)

Luke may not only have been thinking of Pharisees. It is possible that manoeuvring for the places nearest to Jesus may have been a problem, even at the Last Supper. Luke says that while they were in the upper room that evening, an argument had broken out among them about which of them was the greatest (cf. Luke 22:24).

Jesus concludes with a general principle: Those who raise themselves up will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be raised up. It is another way of saying what Jesus has taught earlier, namely, that the greatest in the Kingdom of God is the one who puts himself at the disposal of others, who uses his gifts in serving the well-being of others and who has no interest whatever in titles, dignity or status.

True Christians put their self-value in the kind of person they are for others and not in some purely external trappings. They are what they are and not what others think they are or are persuaded to think they are.

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