“…People there were observing him carefully,” Luke tells us, when Jesus went to dine at the home of a leading Pharisee. But Jesus also was observing the people carefully! And what he observed is something we are very familiar with — high-status people and lesser-status folks. “All men are created equal” is a good theory, but in practice there are those who are highly regarded and those who are less regarded in every human group. Wealth accentuates this situation, and so we live in a stratified society. There are entertainment and food and leisure venues where the poor are priced out, as with shopping venues, car dealerships, private schools, neighborhoods catering to those with wealth. We tend to mingle with people like us, with a similar social status to ours. Churches are one place where hopefully we do get a chance to mingle with people who are not like us, but even here, white flight and de facto segregation means there are poorer parishes and richer ones. Jesus observed how the better sort of people took the best places at the banquet where he was. Instead of trying to be number one, Jesus advised the guests to practice humility, to take a “lower place.” Our class-stratified society makes it difficult to mingle with people of a different social status than my own, to get to know them, to learn their stories and appreciate their wisdom. What can I do about this? There is no easy answer. Perhaps a starting point is just to pay attention, to “observe carefully,” my own groups, and to become conscious of the highest and lowest places in it.
— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia