22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

by Fr Wiseman Nkomo

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1st Reading 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
2nd Reading Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a
Gospel Luke 14:1, 7-14

Humility is the best teacher of dependence and nothingness.

At first glance the first reading seems to be emphasising the benefits that one gets when he humbles himself/herself. An attentive reflection however reveals to the reader the understanding that through one’s humility others get the right to show their worth. In verse 3 we hear that he who conducts his affairs with humility is loved. This humility gives the lover an opportunity to offer his love to the beloved. Again in relation to God we are told that the humility of the great is a sign of dependence on God who gives to all the honour that is theirs. This type of humility is one that reveals our nothingness and need of both God and neighbour, so today we are given the lesson to be able to say through our actions “MY BROTHER and SISTER I NEED YOU” and again to say “MY GOD I DEPEND ON YOU.” The second reading exhorts us not to worry about how we are to address our need and dependence to God for we have Jesus who is our mediator and the angels our intercessors.

Practically speaking we have many instances in life which calls us to be dependent on others and not on our understanding of ourselves and status and today’s Gospel gives us a wedding feast at which we are invited as an example. Noticing how the guest with whom Jesus was invited took their sits at table Jesus used the opportunity to address the importance of Humility. The question he answers in vv 7-11 is “where do I sit when invited to a banquet”

Ordinarily we all would like to take our sits at the place prepared for guests. None would like to sit at the extra chairs. Today Jesus says “only the host knows who sits where according to the statuses of those he has invited.” The tendency to choose the best sit at table reveals how we feel about ourselves because “we act how we feel/think,” and everyone likes to think of himself/herself as importance hence the attitude to take the important places. Jesus in today’s Gospel reading reminds us how our importance is graded when invited he says “when invited to a wedding banquet do not recline at table in the place honour. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited, and the host who invited both of you may say give your place to this man.”

The humility we spoke about in the first reading here tells us that it is a good thing to let the one who invited you to the banquet to give to each the sit that has been prepared for them. It is that humility that says to the one who invited you “I am in need of your guidance, take me to where I belong according to the guest list.” This shows the consistency of Jesus as we will recall his answer to the request of the sons of Zebedee “the cup I drink, you will drink, and the baptism with which I am baptised, you will be baptised, but to sit at my right hand or left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared” (Mark 10:39-40).

The next part of the gospel reading vv 12-14 addresses the attitude we are to maintain when we are the ones who are hosting the banquet.

The question that this second part of the Gospel answers is “are you Christian and planning to host a banquet, who do you invite? Jesus’ answer returns to the teaching about humility. We all know that every person invites people close to him/those we consider special to us. This stems from the phrase “like knows like.” So Jesus by saying invite the least of society says by implication associate yourself with those who have no one to associate with, those who have no one who regards them special. Jesus then invites his disciples to put themselves down there because self exaltation wins no one a favour with God. Hence the Lord calls us to have a disposition of humility and in that way we will realise our neediness and importance first of God in our lives and the importance of others too. God and others will always have a place in our lives.