Homily for the twenty-second Sunday in the year - Year C - Lk. 14:1.7-14
 
 
by
 
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 
 
" One sabbath when Jesus went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him. Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, «When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, `Give place to this man,' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, `Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.»
 
" He said also to the man who had invited him, «When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.» "
 
 
 
Homily:
 
 
" One sabbath when Jesus went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him. Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, «When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, `Give place to this man,' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.» "
 
Jesus is invited to a dinner! As usual, the guests, certainly friends and acquaintances of this Pharisee about whom Saint Luke speaks, observe Jesus: they want to see what he is going to do, especially on this Sabbath day! Will he break the law of the Sabbath? Will Jesus once again heal someone on this day of rest? Definitely! The passage from Saint Luke, which isn't included in today's gospel but which does belong to Luke's account of this dinner, tells us this clearly. "Behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, «Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath, or not?» But they were silent. Then he took him and healed him, and let him go." (Lk. 14:3-4)
 
Jesus is God and he is the Master of the Sabbath! For God alone can provide us with true rest, that which benefits both the soul and the body. Now, we know, because it is a part of our faith, that it is only at the end of our life that we shall receive from the Lord - according to his grace and our merits - eternal rest, a joy without end and without limit, as much for our soul as for our body. It is at the moment of our resurrection in Christ that God will appear to us truly as he who provides us with the rest we want so much. It is that moment which will be the eternal moment of the marriage feast to which we will be invited, it is then that the feast about which Jesus speaks to us in today's gospel will be a reality!
 
What must we do in order to deserve a high place - the highest! - at this feast of the king, at this marriage feast of the Lamb (cf. Rev. 19:9)? The message of Jesus is clear: he who wants the highest place has to not want it, but instead he must want the lowest place, that which no one covets on earth! Yes! The logic of Heaven is a logic which is in opposition to the logic of the world: he who wants the first place in Heaven must seek the last! "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Mt. 18:3-4)
 
" «But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, `Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.» "
 
Don't be mistaken: the place of honor is already taken! It is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who obtained it through her unequaled humility! Mary obtained the place of honor because she humbled herself in her act of faith upon hearing the Angel's words: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." (Lk. 1:35) Mary believed and she said: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Lk. 1:38) Yes, Mary humbled herself, because she renounced, not in her body but rather in her spirit, the virginity which she had vowed to preserve and which united her to the Lord in a way that is without equal. But, due to her humility, the renouncement of Mary was no renouncement at all: on the contrary, this renouncement was transformed into the most perfect consecration that ever was!
 
Mary humbled herself before God, and also before men - first and foremost before Saint Joseph her spouse (cf. Mt. 1:19). In this way, Mary became the first of all the believers in Christ: she became the Mother of God, conceiving within herself he who would proclaim himself "the Bread of God" (Jn. 6:33). Through her self-abasement, Mary was the first to enter the marriage feast in which Jesus is not only the host, but also the food: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." (Rev. 3:20)
 
On this day, we too are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb! Let us prepare our hearts to receive the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords! Like Mary, let us proclaim our faith in the living God, let us recognize our smallness before the Almighty Lord! Let us ask the Holy Spirit to produce great things in us!
 

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