One Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and he was carefully watched. Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for He had noticed how they tried to take the places of honor. And He said, «When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you has been invited, and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you: ‘Please give this person your place’. What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat! Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you: ‘Friend, you must come up higher’. And this will be a great honor for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised».
Seeking the human honour is not a bad thing. However, seeking it, when you don’t actually deserve, will do more harm than doing any good for us. When we feel the need of it, we should ask ourselves, what have you actually gained in life by the human honour, than growing in arrogance and self-pity?
Jesus is not against taking the best place in the society. All that He wishes is to warn us that it carries a great risk of humiliation and self-annihilation.
Why many of us search for such human honour? It is because, I think that we don’t know ourselves, the people around us and we wish that others see in us, what we ourselves don’t see. We wish to project ourselves at the price of others. When the humanity rules deep into our hearts and minds, we won’t have the temptation of human glory.
«He had noticed how they tried to take the places of honor»
Fr. Josep FONT i Gallart
(Tremp, Lleida, Spain)
Today, did you notice the beginning of this Gospel? «They [the Pharisees] were carefully watching him». Jesus also watched and «noticed how they tried to take the places of honor» (Lk 14:1). But... what a different way to watch!
Watching, as any other internal or external action, substantially varies depending upon the motivations that provoke it, depending upon the internal motives, upon what the observer's heart has inside. The Pharisees —as mentioned in different places of the Gospel— always observe Jesus to try to incriminate him in something wrong. And Jesus observes to help, to serve, to do well. And, as a loving mother, advises: «When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat» (Lk 13:8).
Jesus says with words whatever He is, whatever He has in his heart: He is not looking to be honored but to honor; He does not think of his honor, but of his Father's glorification. He does not think of himself but of the other. Jesus' whole life is a revelation of who God is: “God is love”.
This is why, in Jesus, it becomes a reality —more than in anybody else— his teaching: «Rather, He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance (…) Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name» (Phil 2:7.9).
Jesus is Master in deeds and words. We, Christians, want to be his disciples. We can only assume the Master's behavior if we have inside our heart what He had, if we have his Spirit, his Spirit of love. Let us work to completely open ourselves to his Spirit and to let him get hold of us and be entirely possessed by him.
And, let us do this, without thinking of being “enhanced”, without thinking of us, but only of him. «Should there be no heaven, I would love you; should there be no hell, I would be afraid of you; just as I love you I should love you» (Author unknown). Being only carried by love.