Judging Who Sits Where at the Table

In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, Jesus, dining at the home of a leading Pharisee, notices how people are choosing the places of honor at the table. He warns against such a practice, pointing out how embarassing it will be to be moved by the host to a lower place when a more distinguished guest arrives. Jesus’ last words in the Gospel are a reminder that “everyone who exalts himself whill be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

Two days ago (and one chapter in Luke ago) we heard a similar message, with Jesus saying that “some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” The repetition of the message is a good hint this is something we are meant to take seriously.

We tend to be very free with our judgements, including in matters of religion. We think we are capable of determining who is “in” and who is “out”, so to speak. Catholics make judgments about non-Catholics; Christians make judgments about non-Christians; we all make judgments about who the biggest sinners are.

I think part of what Jesus is trying to convey in his words here and two days ago is that we don’t do all that good a job of judging each other. This is something we hear over and over again in the Gospels, particularly in Mark’s Gospel, which has the parable of the weeds and the wheat and the criticism against noticing the mote in our brother’s eye when we fail to see the beam in our own.

It is good for us to be reminded that we are not always the best judges of who gets to sit where at the table and that perhaps we ought to leave that judgment to God.

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