What are the rules of Banquet Etiquette ?
Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sirach 3:17-18,20,28-29; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24; Luke 14: 1, 7-14
Our readings today speak about what humility is all about and what Jesus considers to be proper banquet etiquette.
Humility involves putting our ego aside and listening to the other. Paying attention and or being attentive to the other person is very important. Humility takes nothing for granted and sees all as gift. The person who is humble knows the strengths and weakness of their character and knows the place they should be in. The humble person leaves self-assertion behind and knows their meaning comes not from exterior people, places, or things but rather from the Indwelling Spirit of the Divine who through their personal relationship with the Beloved has come to know their place and their unique intrinsic gifts for the sake of others.
Those who suffer from a false sense of humility laud their power and influence over others. They often expect respect and places of honor and do not reward those who in any way question their authority. The person whether due to their title, education or social or religious status does want public validation and acceptance.
The pharisees were the type of religious leaders who felt they knew it all and had the Divine in their corner. They followed the rules and regulations and did not deviate nor allow others to deviate. They were the rules and regulations people. When they invited Jesus to the banquet, they recognized Jesus as one of them and equal yet they kept an eye on him the translation being they had a “hostile observation” for they were expecting Jesus to do something to not fit in or follow the banquet etiquette of his day.
We must recall that the meal in the time of Jesus was very important for it showed others your social status and the type of people you invited got you invited to their banquets. It would be like the wedding banquets held by most brides and grooms. One would not refuse an invitation to a banquet unless the person could not return the favor and then they would be seen as less than.
When Jesus presents the parable to the guests and the host he once again broke with social etiquette and could have insulted both the host and the guest. By telling the guest not to sit in the first seat unless asked by the host and point out the greed of the guests to get the first seat or as in our day and age save the best seats with bags and coats Jesus found offensive. Then he turns to the host and says why not invite all those who cannot return the favor or even are seen by the host as desirable people. If the host invited the poor, crippled, lame, blind and other undesirable people the host would more than likely not be invited himself to any other parties and ruin his social status.
Jesus does one more thing and tells the Pharisees in the room that the undesirable the humble will be at the banquet of the kingdom in the Resurrection which they themselves believed in. The Eucharist and the Kingdom of the Divine is not for those who look down on others or seek validation for their egos or feel better than others because of their status, wealth or any other man-made title or honor. No, the Eucharist and the Kingdom is for people like you and I human beings trying the best we can to live a gospel of love.
We may not recall the 10 Rules of Banquet Etiquette, but we will always remember how we have been loved in our darkest times when we were trying to come into our own and maybe hurt others and turned our back on Jesus. We may also not remember which fork goes where or what attire goes with what type of party, but we will recall that we are always welcome to partake of the Eucharist no questions asked. The Eucharist is open to all who believe in the transforming love of Christ and are open to that transformation in their lives.
The Eucharist is not a priestly magical moment but rather a moment under the prayerful leadership of the priest we the community along with the priest recognize the real presence of Christ in the simple gifts of bread and wine which in and through and with all our faith become the Body and Blood of Christ the source of our salvation and nourishment for our journey.
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