In the Gospel parable Jesus addresses both the guests and the host. At first glance, his suggestion to the guests to take the lowest place of honor seems like a bit of human wisdom that might save someone from embarrassment of being told to go to a lower place. Jesus, however, is not particularly concerned about the little embarrassment of having to take a lower place in a banquet. He is concerned about the possibility of a “Big Embarrassment” before the judgment of God, the host who has invited us to the banquet of life. This call to humility reminds us of another parable – that of the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to the temple to pray. The tax collector, who would not even raise his eyes to heaven, went home justified, rather than the proud Pharisee who had exalted himself before God.
What Jesus tells us about the way we extend hospitality is most radical in its implications. The natural human tendency is to treat those people well who have or who will treat us well. Jesus tells the banquet host, “When you hold a dinner invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. You will be blessed because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”