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22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Cycle C)

Readings:
Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Psalm 68:3-6, 9-10
Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a
Luke 14:1, 7-14

Abbreviations: NJB (New Jerusalem Bible), IBHE (Interlinear Bible Hebrew-English), IBGE (Interlinear Bible Greek-English), or LXX (Greek Septuagint Old Testament translation). CCC designates a citation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The word LORD or GOD rendered in all capital letters is, in the Hebrew text, God's Divine Name YHWH (Yahweh).

God's divine plan for mankind is revealed in the two Testaments and that is why we read and relive the events of salvation history contained in the Old and New Testaments in the Church's Liturgy. The Catechism teaches that the Liturgy reveals the unfolding mystery of God's plan as we read the Old Testament in light of the New and the New Testament in light of the Old (CCC 1094-1095).

The Theme of this Sunday's Readings: The Humble Shall Be Exalted
The truly humble person has no pretentions. He does not worry about his status among his peers. His only concern is keeping his life right with God. Christian humility is a virtue rooted in God and is the objective of the first of Jesus' beatitudes in Matthew 5:3 when He called His disciples to possess "poverty of spirit" rather than a spirit of pride: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote: "The Word speaks of voluntary humility as 'poverty in spirit'; the apostle gives an example of God's poverty when he says: "For your sakes he became poor" (CCC 2546 quoting St. Gregory of Nyssa who quotes St. Paul in 2 Cor 8:9). The first reading helps us to define humility. The second reading gives us a glimpse of the eternal award that awaits those who possess the humility of poverty of spirit, and in the Gospel reading Jesus advises us on the rewards of humility both temporal and eternal.

The truly humble person has no pretentions. He does not worry about his status among his peers. His only concern is keeping his life right with God. Christian humility is a virtue rooted in God and is the objective of the first of Jesus' beatitudes in Matthew 5:3 when He called His disciples to possess "poverty of spirit" rather than a spirit of pride: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote: "The Word speaks of voluntary humility as 'poverty in spirit'; the apostle gives an example of God's poverty when he says: "For your sakes he became poor" (CCC 2546 quoting St. Gregory of Nyssa who quotes St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:9).

The First Reading helps us to define humility and tells us that true humility gives an honest evaluation of the character of a person. A humble person does not have an inflated concept of self and does not put his/her wants and desires ahead of God, observing obedience to the commands of God as more important than self-interest.

The Psalm Reading uses the works of God in the Exodus liberation to remind us that God is the protector of the weak. God is uniquely "Father" to Israel because of the bond of the Sinai Covenant and the gift of divine Law through which Israel became His "first-born son" among the other nations of the earth. God is also called the "Father" of the Davidic kings. However, the psalmist tells us that God is also called the "Father" of the orphaned and widowed that are under his loving protection.

The Second Reading gives us a glimpse of the eternal award that awaits those who possess the humility of poverty of spirit as opposed to pride of spirit that leads to destruction. Admitting that we are "poor in spirit" and need God is the first step on the journey to salvation (Mt 5:3). The inspired writer contrasts the events of the first corporate covenant formation at Sinai with the first promise of the new and everlasting covenant made to David in 2 Samuel 7:17 (also see 1 Chr 17:11-14) when David established his royal capital upon Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. The Old Covenant was temporal with temporal blessings and punishments. However, the inspired writer warns, the New Covenant brought about through the unique sacrifice of Jesus Christ is eternal. The promises are eternal but so are the punishments, and if God punished disobedience of Israel in the temporal Old Covenant, think how much more serious it is to be punished under the New!

In the Gospel reading, Jesus advises us on the rewards of humility both temporal and eternal. The works of righteousness that God rewards are those in which the truly humble have sought no earthly recognition. Hidden acts of mercy reap eternal rewards that are far greater than anything that a temporal reward can boast.

The First Reading Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29 ~ Humility
17 My child, conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. 18 Humble yourself the more the greater you are and you will find favor with God.
20 What is too sublime for you, seek not, into things beyond your strength search not.
28 The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs, and an attentive ear is the wise man's joy. 29 Water quenches a flaming fire, and alms atone for sins.

The inspired writer tells us that humility gives a true estimate of self. The humble recognize their shortcomings and open their minds and hearts to learn from God and from others who are wise. Through humility one performs one's duties and avoids what is beyond one's understanding or strength. Pride, on the other hand can lead to false greatness, misjudgment, stubbornness, sorrow, and sin. Jesus taught: ... for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted (Lk 18:14). The promise is given in verse 29 that one's mercy and kindness toward those in misfortune will atone for one's sins and those sins will be forgiven by God, using the comparison of fire (sins) being quenched by water (charity in almsgiving).

Responsorial Psalm 68:3-6, 9-10 ~ God is the Defender of the Poor and Humble
The response is: "God, in your goodness you have made a home for the poor."
3 The just rejoice and exult before God; they are glad and rejoice. 4 Sing to God, chant praise to his name; whose name is the LORD [YHWH].
Response:
5 The father of orphans and the defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God gives a home to the forsaken; he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.
Response:
9 A bountiful rain you showered down, O God, upon your inheritance; you restored the land when it languished; 10 your flock settled in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided it for the needy.

Response:

Verses 3-4 proclaim a call to praise God and render Him homage. He is the protector of the weak (literally "father of the faithless") and the protector of widows (verse 5). The Israelites called God "Father" inasmuch as He is the Creator of the world. However, God is uniquely "Father" to Israel because of the bond of the Sinai Covenant and the gift of divine Law through which Israel became His "first-born son" among the other nations of the earth (Ex 4:22). God is also called the "Father" of the Davidic kings (2 Sam 7:14). But the psalmist tells us that God is also called the "Father" of the orphaned and widowed that are under his loving protection (see CCC 238). Verses 9-10 are veiled references to themes in the book of Exodus and God's promise of protection for the Promised Land if the Israelites uphold His covenant (see Lev 26:3-13; Dt 28:1-14).

The Second Reading Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24 ~ The Promise of the Heavenly Jerusalem
18 You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm 19 and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them. 22 No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, 23 and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, 24 and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

In Hebrews 12:18-21 the inspired writer is describing the events of the manifestation of God at Mt. Sinai when He descended upon the mountain in fire, smoke, and the sound of the shofar (ram's horn trumpet). It was an event both terrifying and dangerous (see Ex 19:12-20:19).
Yahweh commanded Moses: You must mark out the limits of the mountain and say, "Take care not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it. Anyone who touches the mountain will be put to death. No one may lay a hand on him: he must be stoned or shot by arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live." When the ram's horn sounds a long blast, they must go up the mountain. The people were terrified and begged Moses to be their mediator and speak to God for them.

In this passage the inspired writer is contrasting the events of the first corporate covenant formation at Sinai with the first promise of the new and everlasting covenant made to David in 2 Samuel 7:17 (also see 1 Chr 17:11-14) when David established is royal capital upon Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. The Old Covenant was temporal with temporal blessings and punishments, however, the inspired writer warns, the New Covenant is eternal. The promises are eternal but so are the punishments and if God punished disobedience in the old, think how much more serious it is to be punished under the new!

Jesus as mediator of the New Covenant (verse 24) recalls the fact that it was Moses who was the mediator under the Old. However, the inspired writer is not contrasting Moses and Christ but those who are the people who are receivers of the two covenants and what they receive as a reward for faithfulness and the wrath they receive as punishment. The inspired writer affirms for a third time in the Letter to the Hebrews that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant as Moses was mediator of the Old (see Hebrews 8:6 and 9:5).

Hebrews 12:22-24 ~ No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, 23 and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect...
Notice the inspired writers listeners "have approached" the heavenly Zion-it is the hoped for city of Hebrews 13:14, not made with human hands but whose architect is God Himself. They are not told to stay away as those of the Exodus generation in the Old Covenant. His Christian listeners are called to drawn near and have approach the heavenly city in the worship of the Lord on the Lord's Day in the celebration of the Eucharist, but they will not fully enter until the pass through death into eternal life.

In Scripture Mt. Zion is the hill in Jerusalem. It is where David captured the fortress of Zion in 2 Samuel 5:6-9 and made it the location of his kingly authority. It is on this site that David received the promise that God had established an everlasting covenant with him and his throne would be "secure forever" (2 Sam 7:16). Mt. Zion figures prominently in Scripture. In 1 Kings 8:1 the Ark of the Covenant was placed in a tent in Zion and later it was moved when the Temple was built on the heights of Mt. Moriah. At that time the identification of "Zion" was extended to include the site of the Temple and eventually came to refer to Jerusalem as a whole, identifying the name with the place of worship of God's holy people on earth. "Zion ' also came to be identified with the sacred Assembly of God's covenant people which is the Church (see Ps 78:68; 87:1-2; Is 1:27; 51:3; 59:20; 60:14), and the place where God dwells among his holy people (1 Kng 14:21; Ps 9:11; 48:1-2; 74:2; Is 8:18). Significantly, the often quoted Psalm 110 identifies Zion as the place where the Messiah will be enthroned at God's right hand, like the first priest-king Melchizedek ruled from Salem in the earthly Zion: The LORD says to you, my lord: "Take your throne at my right hand, while I make your enemies your footstool." The scepter of your sovereign might the LORD will extend from Zion. The LORD says: "Rule over your enemies! Yours is princely power from the day of your birth. In holy splendor before the daystar, like the dew I begot you." The LORD has sworn and will not waver: "Like Melchizedek you are a priest forever" (Ps 110:1-4). It is in the heavenly Zion, the city of the living God, where the heir of David, Jesus the King of Kings, reigns (Heb 11:10-13, 16) and the destination of every faithful believer.

But we should ask the question "Why was the New Covenant formation so different?"
The Old Covenant established an earthly dominion associated with earthly blessings but the New Covenant, while still establishing a covenant family living in the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, also establishes an eternal kingdom in which its citizens will pass from the earthly domain to the heavenly to enjoy eternal blessings! The Old Covenant regulated only the lives of the covenant people in their temporal state on earth and was, as the inspired writer stated in Hebrews 8:5 and 10:1, "a shadow" of the heavenly reality to be inaugurated in the blood of Jesus Christ. Now believers who have been "made perfect" in the blood of Jesus Christ do not come to an earthly mountain but to the heavenly Mount Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem, and we are not told to "stay away" but to come up and enter into the joyous celebration of God's angelic host.

Hebrews 12:23 ~ and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven
The word "assembly" in English is the Greek word ekklesia. In the Septuagint it is used for the Hebrew word kahal, and like it means "the called-out ones", in other words, the Church. In classical Greek ekklesia signified the assembly of the citizens of a city who met to deliberate on the needs of the community or to pass legislative for the good of the community. This assembly was composed only of citizens who had full rights and privileges of the community. The Greek word did not suggest any religious assembly but was adopted by the Jewish translators of the Greek Septuagint to render the Hebrew word kahal. Kahal Yahweh in Hebrew identified the religious Assembly of God where sacrifice was offered at the Tabernacle/Temple. The Hebrew words kahal edah signified in later Hebrew the local assembly of the people of God where the Sacred Scriptures were studied, which is more commonly rendered in Greek by the word synagoge, the word from which our English word "synagogue" is derived. In the New Testament ekklesia reflects the idea of both the kahal of Yahweh, the religious assembly "called out" from among other peoples who offers sacrifice to Yahweh and the local synagogue where Scripture is studied. In fact the Mass reflects both aspects: the Liturgy of the Word in the study of Sacred Scripture and the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the offering of the sacrifice.

Some examples of the use of ekklesia in the Old Testament [Septuagint] and in the New Testament:

In the Christian era the Greek word kyriakon "the Lord's house" came to be commonly used to refer to a Christian church. The Anglo-Saxon group of words (English = church; Scottish = kirk; German = kirche) are derived from this word.

Who then are "the assembly of the firstborn" in verse 23? They are the righteous dead that Jesus led into heaven after His death and descent into the grave; those who had been waiting for His coming from the time of Adam (1 Pt 3:18-20; 4:6). These Saints were the "firstfruits" of the harvest of souls who are the Church [ekklesia] glorified. In Romans 8:29 St. Paul calls them "the firstborn among many brothers" and he calls Jesus "the firstborn of all creation" (Col 1:15) and "the firstborn from the dead" (Col 1:18).

In ancient cultures like the Israelites, the "firstborn" had special rights of inheritance and blessing. The many disgraced "firstborn" sons in the Old Testament lost these special rights of inheritance (i.e., Cain, Esau, Reuben, etc.) including the "firstborn" sons of the first Passover who were spared death but who later became part of the rebellion in the sin of the Golden Calf. Then too, all of Israel was called God's "firstborn" sons in Exodus 4:22-23 but they, like the disgraced "firstborn" Esau, rejected their inheritance when they rejected Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. It is the "cloud of witnesses," the "firstborn" of that first redeemed assembly in heaven, who received all those eternal promises in abundance. The faithful Christians who pass from death to eternal life are those "enrolled" as citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem because their names are enrolled in the Book of Life (see Phil 4:3; Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:11-12).

An important question for us is can one's name be erased from the Book of Life if one has embraced sin to the point of rejecting salvation? The answer is "Yes," which is another nail in the coffin of the false doctrine of "eternal security." Someone has to be "saved" in order to have one's name written in the Book of Life. If one's name is erased, that person is no longer "saved" (see Ex 32:32; Ps 68:27-28 and Rev 3:5).

In Hebrews 12:24 the inspired writer declares for the third time that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (see Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24) and then announces that Jesus' blood has the power to speak to mankind: 24 and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently (can also be translated "insistently") than that of Abel. The "sprinkled blood" recalls the Blood Ritual that was necessary for sins to be expiated at God's holy sacrificial altar. It is indeed Jesus' blood that is continually offered for the sins of man before the heavenly altar that atones for mankind's sins in an on-going Blood Ritual. But how is it that Jesus' blood speaks more powerfully than Abel's blood? Please read Gen 4:10; Mt 23:35; Lk 11:51; 23:24; Jn 6:53-56; Heb 9:18- 28; 10:19-20; and 1 Pt 1:2.

Hebrews 12:24 only makes sense if it is reference to Jesus' precious Blood in the sacrifice of the Most Holy Eucharist. Abel's blood cried out for justice in Genesis 4:10. Jesus spoke of Abel's blood crying out for justice in Matthew 23:35 and in Luke 11:51 along with the cries for justice from the blood of the other prophets of God that the Old Covenant people had murdered down through the centuries. Jesus promised that His generation of Old Covenant people would have to answer for all the suffering endured by the holy ones of God. But Jesus' blood does not cry out in vengeance; instead His blood shouts out in mercy and forgiveness of sins as it purifies and sanctifies the believer and leads all who receive Him in the Eucharist to eternal life: Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him (Jn 6:53-56; also see Heb 10:19-22). Jesus' eloquent cry from the Cross of suffering was "Father, forgive them" (Lk 23:24).

In the formation of the Covenant at Sinai, a bull was sacrificed as a communal sacrifice for the sins of the people and the blood of the bull was sprinkled: on the book in which Moses recorded the Law, on the altar which represented God, and on the people which symbolized the ratification of one Covenant family, united in the blood of the covenant (see Heb 9:18-22 and Ex 24:5-8). The Sinai Covenant was also maintained in the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifice continually on the sacrificial altar in the courtyard and at Yom Kippur (Feast of Atonement) on the Incense altar and the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 24:6; Lev 1:5; 3:2, 13; 16:14-19; etc.). But now we are united as one Covenant family in the blood of Jesus Christ; it is His blood which continues to maintain the New Covenant and our commitment to live in obedience to it, as St. Peter greeted the faithful in his first letter: ... to the chosen sojourners of the dispersion....in the foreknowledge of God, the Father through sanctification by the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ: may grace and peace be yours in abundance (1 Pt 1:2).

This is the same blood Jesus spoke of when He offered the first Eucharistic cup at the Last Supper in Luke 22:20: This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you. This is the same blood He offers to us from the heavenly Sanctuary, as the inspired writer of Hebrews assures the faithful: Now every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus the necessity for this one also to have something to offer (Heb 8:3), and Therefore, brothers, since through the blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is, his flesh... (Heb 10:19-20). This is the same blood he offers to us in the Eucharist sacrifice, and as the inspired writer told his audience in Hebrews 9:14, it is more powerful than the blood sacrifice of the Old Covenant: how much more will the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. This is the blood which cleanses and nourishes New Covenant believers at every Eucharistic celebration.

St. Clement of Alexandria, prior to 202 AD, writes eloquently of the nourishment believers receive from the very blood of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist: When the loving and benevolent Father had rained down the Word, that Word then became the spiritual nourishment of those who have good sense. O mystic wonder! The Father of all is indeed one, one also is the universal Word, and the Holy Spirit is one and the same everywhere; and one only is the Virgin Mother. I love to call her the Church. This Mother alone was without milk, because she alone did not become a wife. She is at once both Virgin and Mother: as a Virgin, undefiled; as a Mother, full of love. Calling her children about her, she nourishes them with holy milk, that is, with the Infant Word ... The Word is everything to a child: both Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse. "Eat My Flesh," He says, "and drink My Blood." The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutriments. He delivers over His Flesh and pours out His Blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery! Clement, Paidagogos, 1.6.41.3.

The Gospel of Luke 14:1, 7-14 ~ The Reward of Humility
1 On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.
7 He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. 8 "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, 9 and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, 'Give your place to this man,' and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. 10 Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, 'My friend, move up to a higher position.' Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." 12 Then he said to the host who invited him, "When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Luke 14:1 On the Sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees...
Friends and important guests were often invited to a Sabbath meal after the Synagogue service or the Temple liturgical worship service (see Jn 12:1). The meal usually took place at noon which was the 6th hour Jewish time and the 12th hour Roman time (Josephus, Life, 54 [279]). No work could be done on the day of the Sabbath rest, so the meal would have been prepared the day before, on Friday which was called "Preparation Day" for the Sabbath (see Jn 19:31; also see Mishnah: Shabbat, 4:1-2 for the regulations for keeping the food warm).

This is the third banquet with the Pharisees and scribes that St. Luke has recorded:

  1. When Jesus pardoned the sinful woman (Lk 7:36-50)
  2. When Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and scribes (Lk 11:37-53)
  3. When Jesus was invited to a Sabbath meal at the home of a leading Pharisee (Lk 14:1-6)

and the people there were observing him carefully.
Jesus had caused controversy by healing on the Sabbath on a number of occasions, so the people were watching Him closely to see if He would heal again on the Sabbath or break some other Sabbath prohibition according to the understanding of the Pharisees (the Sinai Covenant never forbade healing on the Sabbath).

Luke 14:8-11 ~ The Parable of the Wedding Feast
He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, 9 and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, 'Give your place to this man,' and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. 10 Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, 'My friend, move up to a higher position.' Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
Guests at banquets in this period adopted the Greek customs of a symposium, a formal meal where guests recline on couches that are placed around a table. The placement of the guests was according to the guest's rank or social status. Jesus noticed that some of the guests were deciding for themselves their status within the company by choosing the best seats at the banquet table. You will recall Jesus has already condemned the Pharisees for their arrogant practice of expecting the best seats in the Synagogues (Lk 11:43).

Luke identifies Jesus' comments as a "parable" and not a teaching in verse 8 so we immediately know there is a spiritual message associated with this episode. If St. Luke hadn't designated this as a parable, it could be mistakenly interpreted as only advice for the guests on proper conduct and humility at a dinner party. The other hint is that Jesus uses a "wedding" as the occasion in His parable and not an ordinary banquet. His teaching is also an allusion to the wedding banquet of the just in the Kingdom of God. The "wedding" recalls the prophecy of Israel's promise of restoration to God's fellowship in Isaiah 62:4-5.

Jesus' advice to the self-righteous Pharisees who are the banquet guests is that they shouldn't be so arrogant as to choose the highest status locations at the table. They may be embarrassed if the host asks them to choose another seat. But there is also a symbolic teaching point concerning seating or position for members of the Kingdom's wedding banquet. There is (1) an immediate future and a (2) eschatological future teaching that can be applied by this parable. See Rev 19:4-9 and Jesus' teaching in Luke 9:48-12:35-37:

# 1. The immediate future context is the Eucharist: The wedding banquet of Christ and His Bride, the Church, which Jesus will inaugurate at the Last Supper. Those who are invited (the baptized in a state of grace) should humbly and reverently find their place at the "table" of Christ's altar, not after discerning their "right" and "status" to be there, but by humbly confessing their sins and reverently submitting their lives to God. God rewards the humble who are grateful to be invited to the banquet of the Eucharist but not the arrogant who assume that they deserve a place of honor at the Lord's Table.

Symbolic Imagery in the Parable of the Wedding Banquet
The wedding banquet The Eucharistic banquet
The host Jesus Christ
The guests who seek the places of highest honor The self-righteous who will be least in the kingdom
The guest who seeks the lowest seat The humble who the host will exalt
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2013

#2. The eschatological sense of this parable is the Wedding Supper of the Lamb at the end of time as we know it. At that gathering, attended by all the saints, the places of honor will be given to the most humble servants of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

Luke 14:12-14 ~ Jesus' advice to the banquet guests
12 Then he said to the host who invited him, "When you hold a lunch or dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

In the second part of His teaching, Jesus is making a point for His host who is a leader among the Pharisees. It is another teaching on storing up treasure in heaven. When one is rewarded for good deeds by others either in repaying the kindness or in the esteem of their friends and neighbors that is their just reward. God does not intend to reward those who have already received a reward for their efforts. The works of righteousness that God rewards are those in which the truly humble have sought no earthly recognition. Hidden acts of mercy reap eternal rewards which are far greater than anything that a temporal reward can boast. If His host, who considers himself to be righteous, really wants to be judged as righteous by God and to receive God's blessings, he will invite those who cannot repay him.

Catechism References:
Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29 (CCC 2546, 2559)
Psalm 68:6, 10 (CCC 238, 584)
Hebrews 12:22-23 ( CCC 1021, 2188)
Luke 14:1 (CCC 575, 588)

Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2013