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Fr Kirby’s Korner

The message of the Gospel is not about social etiquette, it is about humility and authenticity. As Jesus begins his speech to the people in the house, specifically the Pharisees, it sounds like he is simply helping people avoid embarrassment. As he continues, the more serious point of his parable is revealed.

As we all know Jesus had a history with certain Pharisees with whom he did battle and who ultimately contributed to his execution. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus calls them hypocrites and frauds. In Luke’s Gospel, he is a bit more measured. He observes how the Pharisees jockey for position, as each tries to sit in the more preferred or elevated spot. This scene reminds me of how primates order themselves according to superiority behind the alpha as they eat. Here, Jesus is observing how the Pharisees are so preoccupied by their positions of status.

Jesus is directing his parable at them, subtly mocking their inflated egos. Jesus again and again elevates and values the humble, the poor, the sick and the outcast. He has the nerve to tell these pompous religious leaders, that the outcast of society are more honored than they in the Kingdom of Heaven. He also gravely predicts their future in their fall from exalted to lowly.

Why is Jesus so hard on the Pharisees? It appears that Jesus is critical of their desire to be revered rather than be authentic leaders of the faithful. He points out how silly and useless their status is when it comes to the Kingdom of God. In many ways, the Pharisees had elevated themselves as the only authentic voice of God and dismisses anyone who claimed otherwise.

We can become very confident in our standing before God, but Jesus warns us to not be so sure of yourself. Rather, humbly be concerned not with your stays, but in your genuine desire and need for Christ healing presence in your life.


James Kirby