1st Reading: Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Intro: The Wisdom Books of the Hebrew scriptures pass on the advice of their culture. This selection from one of them introduces the theme of today’s Gospel; the highly prized but seldom achieved virtue of humility.
2nd Reading: Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a
Intro: Remember that the author of Hebrews reminded the people of the holy men and women of the Hebrew Scriptures as examples of right living. In this selection, he reminds them of how unapproachable God seemed to the people at the giving of the Commandments on Mt. Sinai. He compares that with God’s closeness now, from Mt. Zion.1
Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14
“When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…”
After giving the parable for the invited guests, Jesus presents a parable directed at the host. He tells him not to invite his friends and neighbors and the well-healed because they can pay him back by inviting him to their homes. But isn’t that common courtesy; when people do something for you, you do something to repay them?
This isn’t about common courtesy. Jesus already said the normal order of society is going to be turned upside down (Lk 14:11). The cultural norms by which we live are not the norms by which He wants us to live. Not only that, He wants us to change society, He wants us to turn it upside down too. This isn’t just about taking care of the poor. He wants us to invite them to take part in our banquet!
We are to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind? There are so many poor. Look at the multitude of asylum seekers who keep coming to our door. Do you think this Gospel might mean that we are supposed to invite them in… to our banquet? They seem so desperately to want to come here. Are we afraid that inviting them in will spoil our banquet? What does this Gospel want of us?
The crippled, the lame and the blind might be our returning soldiers if we take that in a literal sense, or they might be those who are crippled or lamed by lack of education, social ineptitude, by language problems, by mental or emotional problems, by having been born into poor families, etc. They all seem to fit the bill. Are we supposed to invite them into our banquet too? What would that look like?
Currently and in the past, we, the US, have helped the less fortunate a lot. We have also argued a lot, as a society, about how much to help and what manner of help is actually helpful rather than harmful. Those are discussions that need to continue. Still, this Gospel seems to be saying that we are not just supposed to help them from a distance; we are supposed to invite them in. Some, looking at the quality of life in the U.S., compared to much of the rest of the world, would say that we are partying all by ourselves and using up the world’s resources to do it. I wonder what God sees.
If we look at income inequality in a society, it oftentimes seems that some are invited to partake of the banquet, and some are systematically blocked out. Sometimes the poor are viewed as a drain on society and, oftentimes, blamed for their own condition. This Gospel doesn’t seem to care about that. It only requires that we invite the people who can’t pay us back.
And what about our individual lives. How do we treat the physically, mentally, emotionally, socially or economically less fortunate who come into our lives? Evidently, that is where we are supposed to start; Invite someone outside our comfort zone to our banquet, learn to appreciate them and show them God’s love for them. If we can learn to do that individually, then maybe we, as a Christian society, can learn to better deal with the less fortunate multitudes in our world.
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.” Lk 14:12
What words or phrases grabbed your attention during the Liturgy of the Word on Sunday? What connection do those words or phrases have to your day-to-day life? (Why do you think they grabbed your attention?) What might God be trying to say to you through these words or phrases? What response should you make? What action should you take?
Reflect upon/Share about for what God will repay you at the resurrection of the righteous. When have you had opportunities to help the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind enter the banquet? How did you respond to those opportunities? How can you give God more for which to repay you?
Verse by Verse
Lk 14:2-6, The story of the cure of the man with dropsy on a Sabbath, was left out of this Sunday’s selection so we could concentrate on this parable.
Lk 14:7| Those invited are the scribes and Pharisees mentioned in Lk 14:3.
Lk 14:11| He who exalts himself will be humbled. This verse is repeated in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Lk 18:14, and may point back to Ez 21:31 where the prophecy is warning the King of punishment because of his sins.
Lk 14:13| Are these, the poor, the lame, the crippled and the blind, the type of people who will be invited to the heavenly banquet? The are like the anawim2; because of their need, the must depend completely on God.
Lk 14:14a| “Blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.” This verse reminds us of Lk 6:32-35 on love of enemies.
Lk 14:14b|Humble service to God’s people results in being considered righteous3 in God’s eyes.
- Mt Zion has referred to different places, the City of David, the Temple Mount & now, the Western Hill of Jerusalem. It might be best to think of it as the place where God dwells (Is 8:18, Ps 74:2).
- The anawim are God’s “little ones” mentioned in Hebrew Scripture
- This is not “righteous” in the modern sense of being “cool” but means right relationship with God & His people.