Context: The fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke tells of a sabbath day on which Jesus stopped to eat in the house of an important Pharisee. The Pharisees, as usual, are watching Jesus in the hope that He may be caught in the act of breaking some law. Among those present is a man who suffers from dropsy; Jesus heals him, pointing out to the Pharisees that none of them would hesitate to rescue a domestic animal on the Sabbath. His detractors have no reply to this; the Pharisees have already learned that Jesus has a logical answer to any objections they may raise and that He usually leaves them with nothing to say. The effect these exchanges produce is a growing determination on their part to see that He is destroyed. Jesus now offers two parables for His listeners to consider. In the first He points out that if a person chooses the best accommodations available, he will in all probability be asked to vacate them in favor of someone more important than he; while, if he takes the poorest room to be had, he is likely to be treated with greater consideration. This is a contrast between the person who inflates his own importance in order to impress others and the humble person, who, because he does not claim importance, sometimes finds it thrust upon him. The first of these is often humiliated, while the second receives recognition. Furthermore, Jesus adds, we should not bestow our feasts upon those who are as well off as we and who are well able to repay us; rather we should share such bounties with those who cannot recompense us in any way. In a second parable which elaborates this admonition, He also points out the fact that those who are able to repay do not always appreciate our generosity.
And when one of them sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bad many:
And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.