Gospel Hospitality

Aug 27, 2019

Gospel Reflection, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a; Luke 14:1, 7-14

Gospel Hospitality

Jesus was invited to the banquet of a ruler who belonged to a Pharisee.  We can only imagine how they watched him, how they mistrusted him, and tried to find     reason for their mistrust.  In the meantime, they chose the places of honor at the banquet.  Jesus, on the other hand, was one to choose the table not just with Pharisees, but with prostitutes and tax collectors as well.

He sees through the daily games of vanity and  pompousness.  He says to choose the lowest place.  What are the fears of being at this lowest place?  Will I be ignored or overlooked by the guests of honor?  Will I get stuck there?  Will I be angry about it?  Or will I have honestly chosen a low place?  Will I have truly understood in my heart that what matters is how I stand before God and not whether other  people assign me a place of honor?  As we have welcomed many to our festival this past week and now to all of those activities that will be starting up, our hearts should be moved to openness to those whom we don’t really know.  This is part of what it means to let go of the honored place, the familiar place, and the comfortable place.  Take some time to talk with those you really don’t know!

The banquet in the gospel is an anticipation of the heavenly feast.  How will we be astonished when – let us hope – we one day get to take part in the heavenly banquet.  Who will take the places of honor there?  Not those who have constantly made their way forward here on earth; only those who are great in God’s eyes will be sitting up there.  Perhaps it will be people who were regarded as “of little account” by other people but who had a great heart. 

And Jesus goes on to make a second observation.  There is so much calculation among you!  “You invited me, so I will invite you.”  No, you should invite the very people who cannot give you anything in return.  That is exactly what God does with us!  We have no way to repay him.  Nevertheless, he invites us every Sunday as his guests.  Let us welcome all and learn this lesson of gospel hospitality.  Let us do it the way God does!

 

Father Tony