Obviously Jesus did not feel welcome at the Pharisees home. People were staring at Him. The Lord must have felt uncomfortable at the lack of hospitality.
So Jesus told a story about a wedding banquet, which was one of His favorite images for the Kingdom. As we know, most weddings are formal occasions. Tables are usually set with name cards indicating where folks are supposed to sit. The seating arrangements are done according to the relationship that people have to the groom and the bride. Relatives are at the front, places of honor for the parents, acquaintances usually sit in the left over places. What Jesus described was a presumed situation which led to an embarrassing relocation of a guest. Therefore, Jesus advises us not to presume a place of honor but to take the lowest place—to be a servant. The stores, the traffic, the restaurants—being first if more important than being last. No one wants to be last. The comparison temptation takes over. We can assume that we are better than others; that we deserve to be treated with respect. What makes us better than another person? How can we measure our worth? We measure all the time: “Look what she’s wearing. Notice the car he’s driving. Wow, she walks like she owns the world.” Competition is the name of the game. From what we eat to how we dress—people are always watching—evaluating us. Usually we are giving importance to things that do not matter—the outside appearance or the titles or the financial reputation. The “high class”, the wealthy, the distinguished of society are the ones we want to invite to our parties. Jesus gives us a different direction—a counter-cultural direction. In making friends we do not just want to make friends with the folks who can be nice to us, but also those who have no ability to be nice, because they are broke.
Win the lottery and everybody knows you, or wants to know you. Over night we can go from being ordinary to being someone important—all measured by a dollar sign. Relatives appear that we never knew we had. All sorts of organizations line up to speak with us. Money can change our life—the way that others see us. Lack of money also affects our relationships. Homeless people are not very popular. By the way, we commend all those who help feed the homeless in our area.
The poor, the crippled, the lame are the ones that Jesus directs us to invite to the next party that we have. Don’t expect many presents. That’s His point. They can’t pay us back. Usually when we lend money or when we do something nice for someone we have certain expectations. We usually expect to be invited to their party the next time they have one. However, the poor do not have the capacity to have a party—not the way we expect. In the resurrection—in heaven—in eternity they will be the ones holding the door open for us. Heaven is the party that counts. Our stewardship of gifts is the opportunity we have to get in shape for eternity. One act of kindness cancels a multitude of sins. Remember, Jesus was born poor. He lived poor. He died poor. The Lord was not destitute, but He wasn’t considered rich. By His life, Jesus set the pace of how we should live. Humility is about respecting everyone—those with much and those who have nothing. Because to God we are all the same. God loves us all.
The challenge is before us: to see the face of Christ in every person, especially the poor.