Manners are important. They affect how people live together. Manners are NOT natural – we need to be taught:
(table manners) Don’t chew with your mouth open; use your spoon, fork and knife…
(social) Look at a person when they are talking to you / reply politely…
Say “excuse me” whenever you need to leave the table / sneeze or bump into someone.
Add to these all the “manners” when driving, (maybe we wish more people used driving manners!); manners in school, on the playground, at work, etc. We could even talk about manners in political speeches and running for office…
Our Scripture readings this weekend teach us about “more than manners” as we read in our Gospel reading, Jesus was invited to “eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee.” The reading indicates that Jesus was NOT invited as an honored guest, as we read, “One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, He was being carefully watched.” – (literally – “to lie in wait for” / ready to pounce on Him!) to discredit / humiliate Him before the people! “There in front of Him was a man suffering from a disease.” Obviously he was a “trap” to embarrass / discredit Jesus; whether He would heal on the Sabbath. Jesus loved the man and “healed him and sent him away.” (v.4)
Jesus knew all about the “social status” / the “social currency” of the day – Hosting and being invited to a party like this was part of a complex system of establishing or maintaining social status. Social status was achieved and maintained by
a) knowing the right people, (whole and healthy!) b) being seen with the right crowd and
c) associating only with the right kind of people! (It is significant that Jesus was known for associating with the “wrong” people – “tax collectors and sinners!”)
Formal banquets were a kind of “social currency” – canceling social debts of some, while incurring new indebtedness for others. Being invited to a formal meal indebted the guest to future reciprocation – IF you wanted to stay on the A-list of social status. We naturally apply this to our relationship with God: I must somehow become “worthy” / do something / please God to be in the Kingdom of heaven.
We read: “When Jesus noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, He told them this parable (politically incorrect but divinely true teaching).” Jesus says: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (14:11)
The sin of pride has been around since the beginning of creation. It’s the sin that got the devil and the evil angels banished from heaven; it’s one of the series of sins that caused Adam & Eve to “fall” into sin; and it’s the sin and temptation that continues to “trap” us so easily.
So Jesus teaches us: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and (with the promise) he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11) This humbling is ours as God works true repentance – when we truly confess our sins (especially pride) and look only to Jesus our Savior.
Then GOD EXALTS US, to a place of honor in His Kingdom – the Church and eternally, a place in heaven!
Because Jesus truly humbled Himself (suffered and died on the cross) He now gives us REAL, LASTING personal worth. We ARE exalted – we have REAL WORTH, not because of who we are (or what we’ve done) but because of WHOSE we are (what Jesus Christ has done for you, me, the whole world!) – we have worth through our Baptism!
God’s blessings this week as we live and serve our Savior and those He places in our lives.