Friend, We Have A Better Place For You!

Jesus often had confrontations with some of the religious leaders about meals or the Sabbath. He was sure to be tested in the circumstances of today’s Gospel since he was eating a meal with the religious leaders on the Sabbath! At the meal, Jesus noticed that the guests hurried to recline at the place of honor. He taught them that when they were invited to a wedding feast, they should sit at the lowest place. If they sat at the highest place and someone higher than they came in, their host would approach the lower guest and ask him to move down. This, of course, would be a source of humiliation. Instead, if the guest took the lower seat, the host would come to him as a friend and invite him to take a higher seat. Then, all would look on this person with great admiration. Jesus also advised them on giving a dinner. Instead of inviting close friends and relatives and all the people who might repay the invitation, Jesus encouraged his listeners to invite those who could never reciprocate. Jesus explained that by doing this the host’s place would be insured at the heavenly banquet.

At Jesus’ “wedding banquet” all who hear and heed Jesus’ admonition to humility, inclusivity, and generosity sit in the one “place of honor.” There is one “place of honor” because we are all one Body in Christ. There needs to be only one place near our Host, symbolizing our unity and strength in his one Body. Further, we can never exhaust the gift of this “place of honor.” It is a share in the very Life and ministry of our Host. This “place of honor,” therefore, is not a limited space, a single seat, a physical arrangement of host and guests one to another. It is a spacious relationship of all of us to the risen Jesus that is a share in his divine Life. This “place of honor” is given to “the righteous,” all of us who have chosen to live and act as Jesus the Host. How blessed are we! [Benzinger, Lectionary Resources]

To be invited to the one “place of honor” means that we must let go of anything that limits our relationship to our Host and to each other. If we wish God to raise us up (“repaid at the resurrection of the righteous”), then we must live our lives raising others up. We must build strong relationships of unity. We must forget about seeking our own paltry honor and instead give ourselves over to the “place of honor” to which our Host invites us.

Each Sunday we are invited to God’s banquet table. We ourselves are nourished at the same time that we are called to share the abundance of God’s Life by reaching out to others in need. We eat and drink in order to be gracious to others. This is the most profound blessedness!

Adapted from Renew International Prayer Time Cycle C