Honor: context

weddingfeastredhouse1 On a sabbath he 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.”

If you are paying close attention to the progression of Sunday gospel here in late summer, you’ll have noticed that there are large portions of Luke 13 and 14 that are not used for Sunday gospels.

Luke                  Pericope                                           Sunday Year C Reading
12:35-48             Watchfulness and Service                vv. 35-48 from 19th Sunday
12:49-59             A Call for a Decision                         vv. 49-53 from 20th Sunday
13:1-21               Warnings to Repent                          not used on Ordinary Time Sundays
13:22-35             Prophetic Pronouncements               vv. 22-30 from 21st Sunday
4:1-14                 Conflict at Table                                vv. 7-14 from 22nd Sunday
14:15-35             Invitation to the Banquet                  vv. 25-33 from 23rd Sunday
15:1-32               Parables of the Lost and Found        vv. 1-32 from 24th Sunday
Luke Timothy Johnson (Luke, Sacra Pagina, 223)

Among the portions missing from the Sunday gospels are

  • Jesus’ call to read the signs of the times as well as one reads the weather in order that one may judge rightly (12:54-59)
  • The parable of the fig tree that is permitted to remain in the vineyard for another season even though it has not yet produced fruit (13:1-9)
  • A healing of a women, afflicted for 18 years, who was healed on the Sabbath that Jesus might again teach the meaning of the kingdom of God (13:10-17)
  • The parable of the mustard seed (13:18-21)
  • The lament of Jerusalem’s unfaithfulness (13:31-35)
  • A healing on the Sabbath at table (14:2-6)
  • The parable of the great feast (14:15-24)
  • The cost of discipleship and the necessity of preparations (14:25-35)

On the journey to Jerusalem one of the principal themes has been that of discipleship. Much of Luke 12 attends to that theme especially in terms of preparedness and service.  As well as speaking to other lessons in these texts, Jesus continues to teach about the nature of discipleship (see, judge, and act), the urgency of the decision to become a faithful and prudent disciple, and that our decisions and actions have consequences in terms of the kingdom of heaven.

Perhaps most noteworthy is to understand that these verses are positioned after Jesus exhortation to strive to enter that place where “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God” (13:28) are assembled (from the gospel of the previous week; 21st Sunday) and before the parable of the great feast (14:15-24) which speaks to the OT image of the reign of God as likened to a great banquet. A message from this positioning is that the attitudes of discipleship in this life are reflected in the banquet of the reign of God.

In this week’s gospel Jesus address a fundamental posture or attitude that is a constituent portion of discipleship: humility.  This is not a new topic addressed to his disciples.  Consider Luke 9:

46 An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. 47 Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”

And lastly, as Johnson [Luke, 223] notes: “If Jesus eats a meal with a Pharisee on the Sabbath, there surely will be conflict!”

Sources

  • Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke, vol. 3 of Sacra Pagina, ed. Daniel J. Harrington (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991) pp. 215-9
  • Brian Stoffregen, “Brian P. Stoffregen Exegetical Notes” at www.crossmarks.com
  • Scripture quotes from New American Bible by Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC.
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