The reading for July 5 and July12:
These readings show us a different view of social status. We in modern times may not quite understand the topsy turvy world that Jesus presents with his advice to give up the most prominent seat at the table or with his parable of the man who gives a great banquet only to find out that his invitees will not come. So he fills the seats with those whom he would never previously have invited; he invites every type of social outcast.
We may think we live in a different world, but upon reflection, is our world really that much different?
We spend much of our day vying for power and position. Even in workplaces where there's not much to be gained by winning favor, one still sees a ridiculous amount of energy and time spent on power games. Think of the last meeting you had at work. Think of how short that meeting would have been if you could have gotten rid of people who spoke up to say, essentially, "I agree with what the last person said." Think of all the time wasted in currying favor with supervisors.
Even outside of the workplace, one sees this dynamic. In volunteer situations, people often want to prove that they're indispensable. We even see this in our relationships with friends, the one place where you would think we would approach each other as equals. Likewise in marriages--many spouses spend absurd amounts of time trying to prove that one way of doing things is the right way, and all other ways are bad.
Psychologists would tell us that we play these power games because we're trying to satisfy our needy egos. We want to feel important because we spend much of our lives feeling insignificant. But instead of addressing that pain by making others feel better, we try to make others feel worse. We put people down so that we feel better. We connive and work to wound others.
Christ comes to usher in a new age. Again and again, he reminds us (in the words of today's Gospel), "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14: 11). We don't win favor with God in the way we might win favor with the boss. God is well aware of God's importance. We don't need to make God feel like the big man so that we might win a promotion.
God calls us to a higher purpose. We're to look out for the poor and downtrodden. And we're not to do it because we'll be repaid by the poor and downtrodden. We do it because Christ came to show us how to crack open the world and let the Kingdom light shine into the dark cracks. And the way to do that: look out for the marginalized of the world.