Again, Jesus speaks to us—if we will hear. He begs us to not put ourselves in “first place” but to consider others first. Hear what Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 389) says to us (from so long ago): “Since we ourselves are human beings, we must set before others the meal of kindness no matter why they need it—whether because they are widows, orphans, or exiles; or because they are brutalized by masters, crushed by rulers, dehumanized by tax-collectors, bloodied by robbers, or victimized by the insatiate greed of thieves, be it through confiscation of property or ship-wreck. All such people are equally deserving of mercy, and they look to us for their needs just as we look to God for ours” (Source: The Edge of the Enclosure website).
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Luke 14:1, 7-14
. . . When he [Jesus] noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, . . . But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, `Friend, move up higher’; . . .” He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, . . . But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
From sermon4kids.com: “Jesus said that when we are having a party, we shouldn’t just invite our best friends or the most popular kids in school. In fact, he said that we should be sure to invite the very ones that we might leave out — the poor, the crippled, and those who are less fortunate than we are. ”
Collect: Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: Where do you experience mutual love in your life? Is there someone you disdain? How might you show love for that person in thought, word, or deed?
Ear Worm: “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee”—several ways: arranged by Michael Smith; arrangement from Sister Act 2; arrangement from the Royal Hall, London (all the audience sang); and the original Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (from which “Joyful, joyful” is derived; warning it’s about 30 minutes long; listen to the full introduction as it builds the excitement; [Editor’s question: how many times were you ready to sing “joyful” and had to wait?])
“Phenomenon” (1996), “bounties and mysteries of the human spirit”; “Like water for chocolate” (1992), magic and mysteries of love; “Babbette’s Feast” (1982), “needs of the flesh and gifts of the spirit”
Image: “The poor invited to the feast” from Jesus Mafa
Read the gospel lesson. Then reflect. Who are the people in our community that do not get invited to banquets that we would include if we were to give a party such as Jesus suggests here? (Help the group to notice with you those who tend to be “invisible.” Could be the homeless, those who stand on street corners holding cardboard signs, less visible people like single parents one pay check away from homelessness, those without jobs, people from a different part of town, etc.)
As we celebrate the holy meal of God’s people today, the Gospel reading describes how Christ’s followers should live, using the image of a meal or dinner party. The image of the feast is one of Jesus’ most common ways of talking about life in his kingdom. In this passage, he teaches that those who follow him will live in self-effacing love toward others rather than seeking to claim privilege or superiority. Our sharing is to be directed in particular to those least able to pay us back.
The first reading teaches that self-promoting pride, whether in individuals or in nations, will fail and be overthrown. “Pride was not created for human beings,” the writer tells us.
In the last of a series of readings from the letter to the Hebrews, the writer shifts from a doctrinal discourse on God’s plan to the response we are to make to that plan in our own living. Simple and down-to-earth kindness and hospitality are the marks of those whose faith is in Jesus Christ. This generosity of spirit is the true sacrifice that we offer to God through Christ as baptized members of his body.
As we celebrate in the Eucharist a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, we are reminded that it is a banquet in which all humanity is called to share. We are reminded that we are sent to bring the world into our gatherings and into the heavenly banquet.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.