Wed, August 24, 202210 mins readFather Hans Buob

22nd Sunday

Biblical Homilies on the Sunday Gospels in Reading Year C

Ⓒ Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Pexels

Bible passages


Luke 14:1.7-14

One Sabbath day, Jesus went to eat in the house of a well-known Pharisee. While he was there, he was being carefully watched. Jesus noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table. So he told them a story. He said, ‘Suppose someone invites you to a wedding feast. Do not take the place of honour. A person is more important than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come to you. He will say, “Give this person your seat.” Then you will be filled with shame. You will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place. Then your host will come over to you. He will say, “Friend, move up to a better place.” Then you will be honoured in front of all the other guests. All those who lift themselves up will be made humble. And those who make themselves humble will be lifted up.’ Then Jesus spoke to his host. ‘Suppose you give a lunch or a dinner,’ he said. ‘Do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, or your relatives, or your rich neighbours. If you do, they may invite you to eat with them. So you will be paid back. But when you give a banquet, invite those who are poor. Also, invite those who can’t see or walk. Then you will be blessed. Your guests can’t pay you back. But you will be paid back when those who are right with God rise from the dead.’

Biblical Homilies


“One Sabbath day, Jesus went to eat in the house of a well-known Pharisee. While he was there, he was being carefully watched. Jesus noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table.“ (cf. verse 1.7a)

Again, Jesus uses a situation to deliver a very important sermon. Once again, he ties in with a current occasion. Here he is invited to a banquet, and this situation is not exactly pleasant for him, because he is to be observed. But Jesus nevertheless accepts the invitation and he gives a lesson to all present on the basis of what he has observed.

The Pharisees are again watching Jesus very closely and actually invite him with a false intention. But Jesus, who is still on the way to Jerusalem with his disciples, where death and resurrection await him, in turn looks at the behaviour of these invitees, who choose the first seats. It was apparently a real scramble. Jesus uses this behaviour of those present to illustrate higher truths to them in an image, for he is now concerned with the goal, with what he actually wants to do in Jerusalem: to redeem them all, to lead them to the Father and to make them aware of God.

“So he told them a story. He said, ‘Suppose someone invites you to a wedding feast. Do not take the place of honour. A person more important than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come to you. He will say, “Give this person your seat.” Then you will be filled with shame. You will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place. Then your host will come over to you. He will say, “Friend, move up to a better place.” Then you will be honoured in front of all the other guests. All those who lift themselves up will be made humble. And those who make themselves humble will be lifted up.’“ (cf. verse 7b-11)

Jesus is talking about a wedding. There is a ranking of the guests, which is determined by name tags, place cards or whatever. It is interesting that in two places the personal relationship of the invited to the host is described, similar to our relationship to Christ, who has invited us to the eternal banquet. And it is precisely this relationship that is at stake. How cold and shameful the first word sounds: "Make room for this one!" When you sit down at the top and the host comes and sends you further down, it is shameful. On the other hand, how heartfelt sounds the second word to the invited: "My friend, move up!" The whole honour, moreover, is immersed in the personal love of the host. To the other, he only said: "Make room for this one!" But he calls him friend. And this "friend" is actually spoken by the host, who is quite shocked that his friend is sitting so far down. He wants to say: What are you doing down there? You belong by my side! This word "further up" shows a very personal, warm tone. It is, as it were, God's invitation, Jesus' invitation to the last, to those who need his mercy: Come closer to me!

Jesus then teaches those present - he is speaking to all who are present at this banquet - humility and consideration for their fellow human beings. Paul expresses this even more precisely in his letter to the Philippians: "In humility let each esteem others better than himself. (Phil 2:3) This is the necessary basic attitude. It is part of the character of a true disciple and follower of Christ to esteem others more highly than oneself. Poverty, humility and consideration is the basic attitude Jesus speaks of in the Sermon on the Mount. When we try to live like this, the Lord can call us. When I feel poor before God and recognise myself as a sinner, then I know it is all a gift. Jesus' mercy attracts precisely the sinner who recognises and confesses his sin and knows about his poverty. Humility is the courage to face one's own poverty.

The word comparison or parable shows that Jesus is not concerned with any cleverness speeches, but with the inner attitude of the sinner, namely being poor and small before God. This is the basic attitude of the true Christian: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mk 10,45) This basic attitude of Jesus should also be the basic attitude of the disciple who follows him to Jerusalem.

When Jesus speaks here of a wedding feast, it is a reference to God's action at the end of days at the final judgement, when the great marriage of the Lamb begins. He humbles the proud and exalts the humble. Paul calls himself the first among sinners in this sense. And Vincent Pallotti prays: I am the greatest sinner, therefore you, Jesus, can also make of me the greatest miracle of your mercy. That is true self-knowledge.

"For he who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (cf. also Mt 23:12). This is already the glimpse of the final judgement. Thus Jesus uses what he observed at the banquet to teach a lesson about discipleship to all, but especially to those who hear and accept his words and follow him.

“Then Jesus spoke to his host. ‘Suppose you give a lunch or a dinner,’ he said. ‘Do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, or your relatives, or your rich neighbours. If you do, they may invite you to eat with them. So you will be paid back. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite those who are poor. Also invite those who can’t see or walk. 14 Then you will be blessed. Your guests can’t pay you back. But you will be paid back when those who are right with God rise from the dead.’“ (cf. verse 12-14)

If Jesus has addressed everyone so far and spoken to the conscience of each of the invited Pharisees, he now addresses the host directly. He exhorts him to charity in front of all those present. Everyone should listen to this admonition, because they are all supposed to act accordingly. Jesus does not respond to the host's intention at all. The Pharisees wanted to test him, but Jesus does not let it come to that, but begins to proclaim his message.

Jesus does not forbid inviting friends, of course, but he does forbid three things: first, that we waste our food only on friends and the rich when the poor need it so much; second, to see love in entertaining only those we love and who are kind to us; and third, to do good with the intention that it will be repaid to us. Jesus expresses this very clearly and thus reveals the intention of the host. Whoever expects people to reward him for his deeds - and that is what the host does, because he hopes to be invited again by his guests - has forfeited God's reward.

With his reference to the resurrection of the righteous, Jesus points to the goal and also to what reward we should expect. The goal is the resurrection. The goal is the marriage of the Lamb. And our reward will be something that we cannot earn, something that God gives us in the abundance of his mercy. Therefore, blessed is he who follows Jesus' advice and invites such guests who cannot repay him, for he will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. In another Gospel text it says: We are to lay up our treasure in heaven. We are to gain eternal treasure with unrighteous mammon, that is, with earthly things. The resurrection of the righteous includes those people who already in this present world, according to the basic laws of the world to come, show love to those who are most in need of love. When we do this, everything is given to us by God. We cannot pay for this gift of God, for it is infinite love and infinite mercy. We are to live this basic law of the world to come right now by acting exactly as God will act on us and giving everything to those who cannot repay it - no matter what it is: this can also be sharing our knowledge, our faith, our love, our mercy or even earthly goods.

Let's examine our own lives again: How does it look there? Do I only give at Christmas? Do I only give so that I too can receive something again, or do I give to those who cannot give anything back to me in return, at whatever level? Let us keep to this basic law of the world to come, which is: God gives me everything for free and so I also give for free without expecting anything.