Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 14:1, 7-14
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 26, 2013
Luk 14:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus went into the house of one of the Pharisees, on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
“And it came to pass.” St. Luke, who alone mentions this occurrence, does not say when it took place, whether in immediate connexion with what precedes, or on some other occasion.
Luk 14:7 And he spoke a parable also to them that were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at the table, saying to them:
Luk 14:8 When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him:
Luk 14:9 And he that invited thee and him, come and say to thee: Give this man place. And then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place.
Having cured the infirm man of bodily disease (Lk 14:2-6), He now wishes to cure them of the spiritual disease under which He saw them labouring, viz., ambition and pride. The Pharisees looked upon themselves as raised above others by their external profession of sanctity, and, therefore, entitled to greater respect. They watched Him. He now, in turn, watches them in a spirit of charity. He spoke to them after they were seated at table, a parable founded on what He witnessed, viz., their anxiety to secure the most honourable places at table; and while adducing this parable or example relating directly to the practice of humility at marriage feasts, under it, He meant to inculcate a lesson of humility for all other occasions as well. This is the moral conclusion pointed out in Lk 14:11. It is not, strictly speaking, a “parable.” It is rather an example, conveying a lesson of humility in all cases; or, it may be, that our Lord proposed a parable, omitted by St. Luke, of which this is the application (Maldonatus).
Luk 14:10 But when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place; that when he who invited thee cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee.
Similar is the lesson inculcated (Proverbs 25:6; Sirach 3:20 ff) While referring to human glory, which alone influenced the Pharisees, our Lord inculcates true humility, by the external humiliation in this case; self-abasement before God and man (Philip. 2:3 ff), which will exalt us before God here and hereafter.
Luk 14:11 Because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
This is the general decree of God, raising the humble, depressing the proud, as well in the sight of God as of men, lowering and raising them in their relations towards God and man (see Luke 1:51-53; Matthew 23:12).
Luk 14:12 And he said to him also that had invited him: When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends nor thy brethren nor thy kinsmen nor thy neighbours who are rich; lest perhaps they also invite thee again, and a recompense be made to thee.
After having inculcated a lesson of humility in regard to His fellow guests, our Lord now addressing His host, recompences him by a return of spiritual food, viz., a remedy against avarice, which he much needed—for the corporal food which He deigned to receive at his hands, although He needed no corporal food, as it is He that opens His hand and fills every animal with benediction.
“Who are rich.” that is, invite not thy rich friends. “Rich,” affects the preceding. One may invite his poor friends with as much spiritual remuneration as any other poor.
“Lest they invite thee again,” &c. To be liberal to those who are likely to make a return, is, according to St. Ambrose, a feeling or sentiment of avarice. “Hospitalem remuneraturis esse affectus est avaritiæ.” Cicero gives utterance to a similar sentiment (Lib. 1, de officiis). So, does Pliny (Lib. 9, Epist. 30). Our Lord does not here forbid our inviting friends, relatives, &c., as this would have the effect of cementing concord and charity, which He Himself wishes on all occasions to promote. He merely counsels us, if we wish to derive the greatest spiritual profit and the greatest amount of merit from the exercise of hospitality, to invite the poor, from whom we expect no return. Thus our motives will be more pure, and our actions performed for God alone, who will not be outdone in generosity at the proper time.
Luk 14:13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind.
“Call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind,” who are poor. The word “poor,” affects all. If they were rich, it mattered not whether they were maimed, or lame, &c., so far as the remuneration hereafter was concerned.
Luk 14:14 And thou shalt be blessed, because they have not wherewith to make thee recompense: for recompense shall be made thee at the resurrection of the just.
“Thou shalt be blessed.” As regards the full remuneration in the life to come is concerned, since you can expect none in this, as they have it not in their power. Having hidden your goods in the bosom of the poor, you have made God your debtor. Full “recompense shall be made to thee in the resurrection of the just,” that is, in the everlasting life to come, both as to soul and body. Then, unlike the remuneration received in this life, which is only temporary and transitory in its effects, an eternal weight of glory shall be bestowed on us for the smallest relief given in God’s name to the least of our brethren. Our Lord speaks as if the resurrection were for the just alone; because they alone shall rise to glory, and shall receive the reward of good works. The wicked shall rise, but only to receive condemnation.