Wednesday Witness: Is This Seat Taken?

Blogger’s Note: Originally published on the Saint Andrew Catholic Church and School website, August 1, 2018.

Have you ever been a guest at a friend’s home and found yourself standing at the dinner table, trying to decide where to sit without being presumptuous or disrupting your hosts’ plans? This situation is common enough that Jesus references it in His teaching:

“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. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table” – Luke 14:8-10

That moment of awkward hesitation around the table stems from the recognition that there is a natural order to a dinner party: the head of the table is a place of honor; the host knows who is invited and who should sit where; we should follow his or her lead. Once the guest of honor or the head of the household is seated, the other guests generally move quickly into place.

The same holds true in our spiritual lives: When we are unclear about who is the head of our spiritual household, we find ourselves milling around, angling for position, anxious to be fed but unable to be seated.

I recently watched the video “Is God the Center of Your Life?” by Fr. Mike Schmitz, in which he says that only in the last century or so has the word priority became pluralized as priorities. In its original sense, priority was necessarily singular, indicating what comes prior to or first—and only one thing can come first. But today we speak of countless priorities—work, leisure, money, comfort, food, family, God—and too often we live as slaves to the tyranny of the urgent, rushing from one thing to the next almost without thinking.

Who sits at the head of your life?

Only one thing can come first: the One who came first. If something other God has claimed that place of honor, everything else—including Him—is looking for a seat at the table. But when God takes His throne in our hearts and homes, everything else falls quickly into place.

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