“On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.
“He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.’ Then he said to the host who invited him, ‘When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” [Luke 14:1, 7-14]
Jesus avails himself of this dinner party to speak on a number of subjects, including humility. Our Lord loved this virtue of humility because of God’s sovereign truth and to be humble is to walk in truth, for it is absolutely true to say that we have no good thing in ourselves, but only misery and nothingness; and anyone who fails to understand this is walking in falsehood. He who best understands it is most pleasing to sovereign truth because he is walking in truth. May it please God, sisters, to grant us grace never to fail to have this knowledge of ourselves … as mentioned by St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, 6, 10, 8).
Here again Jesus uses the simile of a banquet to develop his teaching. He speaks not about the guests but about the host, and shows that humility must be complemented by charity.
When exercising generosity, we must avoid any trace of vainglory or seeking of human reward; our primary focus should be on God (cf. 12:22-34 and note), from who we have received everything: “Who has given you rain and land, food and home, art and law and society, a pleasant life, the friends and family with whom you are bound by the bonds of true kinship? […] Was it not God, who now asks you to be kind and generous in and above all the things he has given you? After all we have received from him, and hope to receive from him, we should be ashamed of ourselves if we fail to repay him with our kindness and generosity. If our God and Lord has deigned to call himself our Father, how can we refuse our brothers anything? Brothers and friends, we cannot allow ourselves to use badly what has been given to us as a gift from God.” (St Gregory the Great, De pauperum amore, 23-24)