I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?
So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, "Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob." "And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins." As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Happy the man whom you teach,
O Lord, whom you train by means of your law:
to him you give peace in evil days. (R./)
The Lord will not abandon his people
nor forsake those who are his own.
For judgment shall again be just
and all true hearts shall uphold it. (R./)
If the Lord were not to help me,
I would soon go down into the silence.
When I think: 'I have lost my foothold,'
your mercy, Lord, holds me up. (R./)
Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, and they were watching him closely.
When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable. "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, 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 honoured 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."
Unlike the evangelists, St Paul does not record many words or actions of Jesus. Rather his message is about the risen Lord, now alive within the community. In his letter to the Romans, he presents the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, as a gfit to be shared with other nations (gentiles). They too are blessed with the grace of Christ and are called to spread his spirit in the world. This brings Paul to think about the future of his own people, the tribes of Israel, who as a group refused to recognize Jesus as Lord and Messiah, even though a minority of them did become disciples. Paul maintaints that, as a nation, they suffered from spiritual blindness. But with his usual optimism, he believes that the Jews' rejection of the gospel has served to spread it even more quickly among the Gentiles. "Blindness has come on part of Israel until the full number of Gentiles enter in." In spite of this "blindness" he trusts that God has not rejected his people; and he predicts that some time in the future, all Israel will be saved.
The gospel warns us against looking for celebrity and putting too high a value on titles, status and publicity. There is a temptation to want our virtues to be publicly known and admired, or to use ones wealth or status to become the priveleged guest of honour. Jesus is kind enough to understand this common weakness of even good people. So he advises them to sit in the lowest place "so that the host will say, 'My friend, come up higher,' then you will be honoured."It is as though to say, "If you must seek esteem, at least go about it in a proper, civilized way." The story ends with the most difficult guideline of all, be humble. True humility is a stumbling block to us all, even if honour is offered as a reward.
"Whoever humbles himself will be exalted." This principle applies above all to Jesus himself. Saint Paul sums up the life of Christ in this way, "He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and then humbled himself still further, even unto death on a cross." This turned out to be his path to glory, for "God gave him a name above every other name." Having humbled himself, he is exalted in heaven and became the source of our salvation.
Jesus did not look for the place of honour whether at table or in public. Rather, in order to serve others he was prepared to endure dishonour, even the shame of crucifixion. But this self-emptying brought him the honour that is truly worth having, honour from God. He invites us to take the same path of humble service, and promises that this will bring us honour from God. For him the highest goal in life is to do God's will, and this is through humble, loving service of others.