Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

A Place At The Banquet

By Mary Ann Hughes
Mary Ann Hughes

I moved to southern Indiana when I was in my early 20s, and since I didn’t know anyone here I join a local organization.

Soon I was a member of the board, and then I was asked to co-chair a luncheon honoring past presidents.

I agreed to help, and another member and I worked very hard on the details.

The day of the luncheon we arrived early at the restaurant. We put our purses on a table in the middle of the room, and then we began handling last minute details.

After we were done, we went back to the table and waited. That’s when another member of the organization approached us and said, “We have some people coming from Vincennes, and we would like them to meet some interesting people. We want to use this table, so can the two of you move?”

I can tell you that we quickly picked up our purses and quietly tiptoed to the back of the room.

I have always found this story to be hilarious, but when I tell people about it they are appalled.

Recently, I was talking to a member of that group, and I told the story again. I still think it’s funny, but she sure didn’t.

Somehow, with that memory fresh in my mind, I thought about another dinner, the banquet that Jesus talks about in Luke 14.

The people in the parable could be us today.

They covet a place of honor at the banquet, but Jesus warns, “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.”

Jesus suggests that we take the “lowest place” so the host may come and say, “Move up to a higher position.”

He warns, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I think there’s a second part to this.

I think that we Catholics need to start to hunger NOT for the finest seat at the banquet, but for the finest food, which is, of course, the Eucharist – the sacred body and blood of Jesus. When we do that, when we shift our focus, it doesn’t really matter where we sit, now does it?