Today's Gospel recounts the familiar parable told by Jesus of the wedding guest who races to take the seat of honor and then is embarrassed to be relegated to a lower seat. The obvious message is that a little bit of humility can be a good thing. Far better to underestimate one's station in life and be called forward as opposed to displaced and moved downward.
The more remarkable thing to me, however, is what the story says about Jesus as a person. I suppose a modern analogy to this dinner might be one of us being invited to a private dinner with someone of power and stature — let's say the mayor of a city. I suppose that if I were invited to such a dinner and saw various people clamoring for the mayor's attention, that I might remark on it to my wife later, but I doubt that I would — to use the modern slang — call them out right at the dinner.
But that's exactly what Jesus did. He called them out. Why? I think the answer is that Jesus' message was, and still is, radical. We still possess an instinct that importance in this world automatically equals a special place with God. To be sure, many well known and powerful people have done a great deal of good and have surely earned a special place with God. But Jesus was saying then, and says to us now, that there are many ragged people — of Jesus' time the beggars and the prostitutes — who have earned a special place with God as well. If we cast them aside, either literally or figuratively, we miss Jesus' message.
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