Read: Luke 14:7-14
Meditation: “Not So Fast!”
Jesus has just experienced a very awkward moment in the home where he had been invited for dinner. He has exposed the inconsistencies of the religious leaders, who were willing to do more on the Sabbath for their animals than for humans (see 14:1-6).
Things don’t get any better in this week’s gospel lesson. As Jesus watches the guests compete for the “places of honor” at the banquet, he has more to criticize. Perhaps they wanted to sit at the “right” table, where they could talk with people as important as they thought they were. Or maybe they wanted to sit where the host could see them and take note that they had accepted his invitation. It’s “good business” to be seen by the guy in charge.
But Jesus said it’s bad business to live this way. Religion is never to be used to enhance your status. Self-centered religion looks for the best seats in the house; true religion is willing to sit anywhere. Unfortunately, when the ego is in charge, humility is one of the first things to go.
But it can backfire (v. 9), and status can quickly become shame. The boasters may have to be visited by the host and asked to take a lower seat—in plain sight of the rest of the dinner party. How awful! But Jesus is thinking about more than seats at a dinner party. His words apply to any occasion where we allow self-interest to define the moment.
In early Christianity, after the priority of love, the next-best virtue was humility. It marks the life of those who do not set their course in life with a “what’s in it for me” mentality. Humility allows God to assign the seats, and we are content to fellowship with whomever is at the table. And when we do this, we find and enjoy many new friends.