October 29, 2011 - Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Jesus advice might not work. We could take the lowest spot, over in the corner, but what if no one ever comes to move us up? Also, it could lead to the same kind of hypocrisy as the Pharisees, worse even. Whereas the Pharisees wanted to sit in the best spot and were very explicit about this, Christians could fight for the lowest spot because it is the highest spot. We all want to be caught being humble when no one is looking so that we can be complimented on our humility.

Prescinding, then, from the question of whether this is actually good advice for a wedding banquet, we should consider it as advice for The Wedding Banquet: heaven. St. Luke calls it a parable, after all. What does it mean to take the lowest spot in the heaven? Well, there are two reasons for attending a wedding reception: to honor the couple being married and to enjoy the party. At one end of the spectrum is a wedding crasher, whether invited or not, who does not care about the couple at all. At the other end is someone, perhaps a saintly great-aunt, who attends purely to honor the couple. Most of us fall in the middle: we attend the wedding to honor the couple, but we are disappointed if the food is bad and the music unpleasant and the conversation boring.

So it is with heaven: do we want to go to heaven so that we can praise God forever or so that we can enjoy the delights of heaven? Saints do not want to go to heaven for their own sake, but many people do. For many people, heaven is a reward for having lived this life properly, but for a saint, heaven is where we finally begin to live properly.

One of the important first steps in spiritual maturity is realizing that not I but God is the most important being in existence. I hope heaven will be wonderful, and I know it will be, since God knows how to throw a party and he is very wealthy, but I want to go to heaven not because it will be great for me but because there I will finally praise God perfectly. I do not look forward, primarily, to the good food, and good music, and good company of heaven. I look forward to the good prayer and the good love. That is the lowest place, where there is no self-interest anymore. I want that, or, at least, I want to want that.