Friday, October 28, 2016

"EVERYONE WHO EXALTS HIMSELF WILL BE HUMBLED."


Homily or October 29th, 2016: Luke 14: 1, 7-11.

Jesus seems to be offering shrewd advice to the person who wants to get ahead in society. When you are invited to a banquet, he says, don=t head straight for the head table. You might be asked to give up your place for someone more important. That would be embarrassing. Take your place far away from the head table. There you don=t risk being pushed aside. And if you=re lucky, your host will ask you to move up to a better place, where everyone can see what good connections you have.     

In reality, Jesus gave this shrewd advice Atongue in cheek.@ Can we imagine that Jesus cared where he sat at table? If there is one thing Jesus definitely was not, it was a snob. By seeming to take seriously the scramble for social success, Jesus was actually making fun of it. He was showing up snobbery for the empty and tacky affair it always is.

But Jesus= words have a deeper meaning. This is clear from his opening words: AWhen you are invited to a wedding banquet.@ A wedding banquet is a familiar image in the Bible. Israel=s prophets speak often of God inviting his people to a wedding banquet. That was the prophets= way of saying that their people=s sins would not always estrange them from the all-holy God. There would come a time when God would take away sins, so that his people could enjoy fellowship with the one who had created them and still loved them.

  Jesus came to fulfill what the prophets had promised. He told people that the wedding banquet was ready. Now was the time to put on the best clothes, he said, and come to the feast. Some of the most religious people in Jesus= day, the Pharisees, were confident that the best seats at God=s banquet were reserved for them. Hadn=t they earned those places by their zealous observance of every detail of God=s law? Jesus= seemingly shrewd advice about how to be a success in society was a rebuke to those who assumed that the best seats at God=s banquet were reserved for them. Jesus was warning them that they were in for a surprise, and that it would be unpleasant.

Today’s gospel reading is at bottom, about humility. Humility means being empty before God. And it is only the person who is empty whom God can fill with his joy, his love, and his peace.