Readings for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Proverbs 25:6-7; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14

Names like Emily Post and “Dear Abby” are well known to anyone keen to follow the proper rules of etiquette at the dinner table – from the placement of silverware to the seating of guests. Even folks who didn’t grow up with such dining formalities have a certain way of doing things they consider proper. “Wash your hands before eating…and no using the tablecloth as a napkin!”

Jesus attended dinner parties where he frequently rubbed shoulders with people of all types. Sunday’s Gospel shows that Jesus was not shy about speaking up about bad behavior he witnessed at the table. But his concerns went much deeper than questions of etiquette. Jesus taught about the things that God values in His Kingdom – humility instead of pride, kindness to the poor instead of buying favors from the rich and influential. Jesus wanted us to understand that the values we live out on earth are a reflection of how we view God and our neighbor (Lk 14).

Solomon’s ancient advice to the kings and courtiers of his day still has practical application today. Rather than claim honor for oneself, it is better to exhibit humility, especially in the presence of a greater authority (Pr 25).

The epistle reading for Sunday lists a number of practices that exemplify Godly living: showing hospitality, visiting those in prison, honoring marriage and cultivating contentment. These are the sacrifices of praise we offer to God in gratitude for the grace He’s shown us (Hb 13).