This Sunday's Readings
Humble yourself and you will find favor with God
The just rejoice and exult before God.
You have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.
When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Meals played an important role in the society in which Jesus lived. More than a time for sharing nourishment, they were a time to share ideas and to model different aspects of social relationships. In Luke's Gospel, the places that a person ate (at the home of a tax collector, 5:29), the people with whom a person ate (sinners, 5:30), whether a person washed before eating (11:38), and, as is the case here, the place that a person sits while eating are all important. The narrator says Jesus tells a parable, but it is really wise advice to both guests and hosts about finding true happiness at the heavenly banquet.
Jesus warns guests to wait before taking their places at the table lest they be asked to move if someone more important arrives. This is more than just a lesson about dinner etiquette. It is advice on how to find your true place in the Kingdom of God. Jesus advises hosts not to invite people who would be expected to repay them to dinner but to invite those who could not repay: the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. This is where real blessings can be found.
In these sayings, Luke gives us not only advice on how to approach the end times but also on how to live according to Jesus' vision of a good society. Luke's Gospel also advises us how the Church must be part of bringing about this society. It is yet another example in Luke's Gospel of the reversal the kingdom brings about.