We have a God who has always leaned heavily towards mercy. There is a great repeating phrase in the Torah that says that God will punish to the third or fourth generation, which is really extreme. If you make a mistake God will punish your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, and your great-great grandchildren. But that was actually standard fare for the day for what a leader was going to do. But then God goes on to say that I will offer mercy to the thousandth generation, which swamps the third or fourth generations through this great act of love.
There is a wisdom theme going on today. In the Gospel, Jesus gives us some down-home, practical advice: If you’re invited to a big banquet and arrive a little early, don’t go and sit in one of the seats of honor, because when the guest of honor arrives he may say to you, “Fred, I’m actually saving that seat for someone else. Would you mind going to sit over there?” Then you are embarrassed and annoyed, the honored guest is probably a little embarrassed also, your friends are embarrassed for you and avert their eyes so they don’t have to look at you as you toddle on down. No, when you’re early at the banquet, sit in the modest seat first, and then perhaps the honored guest will say, “Fred, come here. I’ve saved this seat just for you.” Not bad advice.