Year C: 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Luke 14: 1, 7-14
It is interesting that, in the first sentence of the Gospel, Luke says that the Pharisees watched Jesus closely - interesting because, as the rest of the Gospel illustrates, Jesus was also watching them closely!
Perhaps he had seen the jostling for places - and the hierarchy of which that speaks. Perhaps he noted the desire to be noticed and recognised as important. Perhaps too, he recognised that jostling and those needs as speaking of a sense of inferiority among those gathered. They wanted to impress and saw where they were placed at the table as indication to themselves and to Jesus of where they stood in the pecking order - and the higher the better.
Humility is a strange virtue in that it is rarely, if ever, possessed by someone with low self-esteem or sense of inferiority. A person with those difficulties may seem to be humble - but it is not the humility of which Jesus speaks. This humility is born of an inner certainty that you have an intrinsic value that matters to you - to God - and to those who really know you. Such a humility brings a freedom from the need to prove yourself.
Jesus was also aware that such gatherings could be in danger of becoming rich menís clubs - where favours were won and influence exerted. They ran the risk of becoming self-serving rather than the sharing of hospitality they were meant to be.
So, he lays a challenge before his host too - not simply to invite those who could pay him back with an even more sumptuous meal but to look beyond his own household and circle of friends. Out in the world were - and are - many for whom even the simplest of meals was hard to come by. Their Sabbath meal would have been meagre - and some, on the day given over to worship and rest, would have gone to bed hungry.
There is always a tendency to feel that it is enough to look after oneís own - and that is no bad thing - but excessive exclusivity is dangerous. It becomes self-seeking and proud and ignores the rightful calls to care for those whom we have chosen to exclude. Jesus enjoyed the hospitality of many people - but did not use those occasions to ingratiate himself with his host - rather, he was simply himself and encouraged others to do the same.
What does it mean for me?
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