Honor and Humility

This coming Sunday marks our journey in Ordinary Time, the 22nd Sunday in Year C. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

1 On a sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. … 7 He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. 8 “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, 9 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. 10 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. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” 12 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. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:1,7-14) Continue reading

Who we invite

weddingfeastredhouseThe priest I lived with in Kenya was away for a much-needed break. He assured me it would be a quiet week.  Which is of course a guarantee that something will happen.  Perhaps not monumental in the way of things, but yes indeed is was a memorable week. It was the week the Kenyan Security Forces came looking for the leaders of the Rwandan refugee community – of which my name was on the list.  We were all in a meeting when they showed up. We all slipped out the windows in the back of the church.  All very dramatic, but in truth I don’t think they tried that hard to catch us.  Still, kind of memorable to be on a top ten list if even for an hour. But that wasn’t the most memorable. Continue reading

Honor: reflection

weddingfeastredhouseAlan Culpepper [287-88] offers these final thoughts:

These are liberating words that can free us from the necessity of succeeding in our culture’s contests of power and esteem. They free us from over-under relationships and the attitudes and barriers they create, so that we may be free to create human community and enjoy the security of God’s grace. Continue reading

Honor: hosts

weddingfeastredhouse12 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. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Just as Jesus’ fellow guests had occupied themselves in normal, honor-seeking pursuits upon arrival at the meal, so Jesus’ host had followed ordinary conventions in putting together his invitation list. Invitations served as “currency in the marketplace of prestige and power” [Green, 552] for those whose framework was the world as we know it. See through the framework of the Kingdom of God, a different currency is the “gold standard.” Continue reading

Honor: guests

weddingfeastredhouseIn 14:1–24 Luke depicts Jesus’ enjoying the hospitality of a leader of the Pharisees following a synagogue service on the Sabbath (14:1). Given, first, the importance of social status as determined by the perception of one’s contemporaries, and, second, the importance of the reciprocity of gift and obligation in ancient society, Jesus’ assertions on right behavior undermine the values and expectations that his meal companions would have taken for granted. The consequences of this right behavior leads to the construction of a new vision of life and community. Continue reading

Honor: humility

weddingfeastredhouseThis word comes into our language from the Middle English, via Anglo-French, from Latin humilis low, humble, from “humus” the word for earth. Webster’s offers this as a definition

  1. not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive
  2. reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission
  3. ranking low in a hierarchy or scale: insignificant, unpretentious –or : not costly or luxurious

Continue reading

Honor: context

weddingfeastredhouse1 On a sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. … 7 He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. 8 “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, 9 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. 10 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. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” 12 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. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Continue reading