Lectio Divina: Luke 14:1,7-11
1) Opening prayer
Almighty and ever-living God,
strengthen our faith, hope and love.
May we do with loving hearts
what you ask of us
and come to share the life you promise.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 14:1,7-11
It happened that on a Sabbath day Jesus had gone to share a meal in the house of one of the leading Pharisees and they watched Him closely. He then told the guests a parable because He had noticed how they picked the places of honor. He said this: "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honor. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited, and the person who invited you both may come and say, "Give up your place to this man." And then, to your embarrassment, you will have to go and take the lowest place.
No, when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there, so that when your host comes he may say "My friend, move up higher." Then, everyone with you at the table will see you honored.
For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be raised up."
• Context. The Word of grace that Jesus visibly rendered with His teaching and the cures He worked runs the risk of being suppressed. For Jesus, the event of death is always closer, like all the prophets who have preceded him. Such a reality which Jesus is going toward shows not only God’s patience, but man’s rejection b. By rejecting Jesus as the one sent, the Father’s only Word of grace , man condemns himself and closes the possibility that the Father has given him access to salvation. However, hope is not extinguished. It is possible that some day man will recognize Jesus as “the one” who comes from the Lord and that will be a reason to rejoice. Therefore, the conclusion of chapter 13 of Luke’s Gospel makes us understand that salvation is not a human enterprise, but can only be received as an absolutely gratuitous gift. Let us see, then, how this gift of salvation is fulfilled while always keeping in mind this rejection of Jesus as the only one sent by God.
• The invitation to lunch. In the face of the danger of being reduced to silence it might have been suggested to Jesus that He flee. Instead, He accepts the invitation to lunch. The attitude of Jesus makes one understand that He does not fear the attempts of aggression against His person, they Him . Inviting Him is “one of the heads of the Pharisees”, a person who has authority. The invitation takes place on a Saturday, an ideal day for a festive lunch which was usually taken around noon after all had participated in the liturgy in the Synagogue. During lunch, the Pharisees “were observing him” (v. 11): an act of supervision and control that refers to the suspicion regarding His behavior. In other words, they observe Him, expecting that He will do some inappropriate action regarding their law. Finally, they corner Him, not to safeguard the observance of the law, but rather to catch Him in some gesture of His. In the meantime, on Saturday, having cured the one suffering from dropsy before the Pharisees and the Doctors of the Law, He expresses two reflections on how it is necessary to accept an invitation to table and in the spirit in which the invitation is to be given (vv. 12-14). The first one Luke calls a “parable”, that is to say, an example, a model or a teaching to be followed. Above all, it is necessary to invite with gratuity and with freedom of spirit. Frequently, men go ahead and ask to be invited instead of waiting to receive an invitation. For Luke, the point of view of God is the contrary. It is that of humility: “He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly”. The call to participate in the “great supper” of the Kingdom has, as a result, an improvement in the level of life for the one who is capable to accept the invitation of salvation with gratitude .
• The last place. It is true that to cede or give up one’s own place to others is not gratifying. It could be humiliating and is a limitation of one’s pride. It is even more humiliating and a reason to feel embarrassed when one has to move to the last place because it is a dishonour in the eyes of all. Luke thinks of all those humiliating and painful situations of shame in which the believer can find himself, in the place reserved for one who lives these events before the eyes of God and His Kingdom. The proud, those who seek to have first places, and the important gratify themselves because of their social position. On the contrary, when Jesus came to live among us, “there was no place for him” (2, 7) and He decided to remain, choosing a place among the poor and humble people. This is why God raised Him and exalted Him. From here comes the precious suggestion to choose His attitude, considering the last place as a privilege. The reader may remain disturbed by these words of Jesus that undermine the utilitarian and egoistic sense of life, but in the long run His teaching reveals itself to be necessary to ascend on high and the way of humility that leads to glory.
4) Personal questions
• In your friendships with others, does the calculation of interest and the expectation to receive something in exchange, prevail?
• In your relationship with others, is there always and everywhere your “I”, even when you do something for the brothers and sisters? Are you ready to give yourself in what you are?
5) Concluding Prayer
I thirst for God, the living God;
when shall I go to see the face of God?
I have no food but tears day and night,
as all day long I am taunted, "Where is your God?" (Ps 42:2-3)