On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Christians are always “strangers and sojourners” in this world. We are called to be “good servants of the king,” but “God’s good servants first.” And so in every age Our Lord calls us to be the best citizens of the nation we can be, but sooner or later we must “renounce all our possessions” for his sake, and the sake of his kingdom.
Born in 1876 in southern Germany, Rupert Mayer was the first chaplain in history to receive the Iron Cross for his service to the Prussian state during World War I. Later, as a pastor in Munich, he was interested in the work of one Adolf Hitler, and his interest convinced him of the profound evil of that work. He spoke out against it, and was imprisoned first in Landsberg prison and then in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Because they did not want him to die a martyr’s death, the Nazis released him from the camp. He died while celebrating mass, shortly after liberation in 1945. His last words—from the altar—were “the Lord, the Lord, the Lord.”
His remains are in a very public place in downtown Munich. He was a hero to his nation, and a hero to God’s people: he helped them remember the deepest commitment to God of his nation when the leadership of that nation turned against the ways of God. May we have the courage to witness in our time and place as Blessed Rupert Mayer did in his, for sooner or later, God’s ways are clearly seen as not our ways, and we must live as the “strangers and sojourners” we are, as His people, first and certainly last.
—Fr. Raymond Gawronski S.J.
Lord, while it’s not unusual to be critical of people who “seek the place of honor,” it’s far more difficult to recognize such behavior in ourselves. Anytime we begin to covet recognition or force our opinion on others, we begin moving toward that “seat of honor.” We greatly desire that your Spirit keep us from rationalizing our motives in such situation. This day should the “seat of honor,” be within our glance, let us stay focused on what really matters — using our position, power, authority for your greater glory.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team