I can depend entirely on my peers, in which case my goodness, my striving to do well, and the sort of life I lead will be a reflection of them, and I’ll have to do everything to keep myself well-considered by them, receiving those whom they receive and excluding those whom they exclude, so as not to run the risk of finding myself the excluded one. Not only all these things, which might seem superficial, like the little games of hypocrisy which we all have to play to keep our social life going, but it is also the case, perhaps without my realising it, that all my “I” is nothing other than a construction forged by the difficult game of keeping my reputation. There is no other “I” at the bottom of it all, behind the “I” which I am acquiring through the little manipulations by which I search to keep my reputation. My “I” and my way of being related to the “other” are the same thing.
The other possibility is that I receive my “I” from God, and here’s the rub: God has an awful reputation. Which is nothing other than saying that God’s reputation and the reputation of the victim is the same thing. That is what Jesus was suggesting: in order to receive your reputation, your being noticed and recognised, by God, you have to be prepared to lose the reputation which comes from the mutually reinforcing opinion and high regard of those who are bulwarks of public morality and goodness, and find it among those who are held as nothing, of no worth. That is also what Paul says to the Corinthians:
“God chose what is weak in this world to put to shame what is strong; God chose what is base and despised, even things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.“ (1 Cor 1:27-28)
‘Glory’ or reputation, and ‘shame’ appear throughout the apostolic witness, never very far from one another. In today’s Gospel from this Lukan parable of the wedding banquet, the one who sits in a higher position is put to shame, while the one who sits in a lowly place is publicly recognised by the host, who says:
“Friend, come higher” Thus will you receive glory in the face of the other guests. (cf Lk 14:8-11)