Jesus in the gospel today remarks that ‘in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place’. In our modern day highly organized and meticulously planned banquets there may not be a last place. Once I came across a situation. I solemnly blessed a wedding and the bride’s mom invited me for the dinner thereafter. I had an evening mass which I entrusted to another priest and went to the banquet hall well in time.
There was a front desk where receptionists were directing invited guests to their assigned seats. My name was not in the list and no seat assigned for me. The girls at the desk directed me to one of the seats at the last table, where all the seats were named. I said someone was named there and the guide girl said that that person was not coming. I sat there for a while and there comes the owner of the seat. The girl appeared with apologies and moved me to another desk where also all the seat were named. Again I said it was named for someone and she said no one would come there. I sat there, of course, not with much comforting feelings. The guests around did not know me and they kept their distance. After a while another gentleman walked in and asked me to move off. This time there was no guide girl. I got up, and without many noticing me, I sneaked out through the front door and got into the car and drove off.
Ever since I am very cautious and politely decline any invitation to weddings and similar parties. I am not sure if it is because I do not have sufficient humility as in Sirach exhorts today. We are way past the time of Jesus and the manner of banquet organizations. However, are we far away from the mind set of the people to whom Jesus was speaking? Can we presume that they really heard him?
In our times now we are not comfortable to sit at the last seat, we are not prepared to “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind”, and we may not be interested for the blessings that would follow because they cannot repay us. And the rewards at the resurrection of the righteous, it is far too distant and we are not quite sure? Am I right? Was Jesus relevant at all even at his earthly time? And how relevant is he today? Does he find a place in our highly civilized mind set? We have to take everything with a grain of salt, don’t we ?