Jesus reaches out to the Pharisees, even if most of them are hostile to him, probably because he sees his encounters with them as teaching moments.
Jesus has observed how the guests look ridiculous as they elbow their way to the most coveted spots in the dinner table. Immediately Jesus shares a parable with all the guests, about the wisdom of choosing a lowly place at table and avoiding the place of honor. It will be embarrassing, he says, if one is asked to vacate the place of honor in favor of a more eminent person. Jesus is not teaching astuteness so that one can work one’s way to the top. He asks them to shun the notion of self-entitlement or superiority and see themselves in equal terms with all other people.
One’s elevated status in society does not entitle one to look down on others, especially the lowly.
Gospel • LUKE 14:1, 7-11
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.
He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. “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, 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. 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. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
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