Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Luke 14:1,7-14

“When someone invites you to a feast …”

In the New Testament, the sharing of a meal is usually meant to be a sign of the harmony to be brought about in God’s kingdom. We do not find that in today’s Gospel story. Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees. It should have been an occasion of fellowship; instead “they watched him closely”, hoping to find fault with him. But Jesus used the situation to offer two lessons – first to his fellow guests, then to his host.

Lesson one is surely not about a crafty way of earning status in the eyes of others! Rather the opposite: “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled”. Scrambling for recognition, seeking the exalted status of celebrity, longing to be ‘top dog’, such attitudes have no place in God’s kingdom. What matters for Jesus and those who would follow him, the source of real status, is a personal love of God which is expressed by the love and service offered to others. How we are looked upon by others matters little; how we look upon others with love and compassion is what truly matters.

Lesson two seems even more challenging: to invite to your dinner party people who “cannot pay you back” in any way. Again, he offers his followers an alternative way of behaviour, that of looking outwards from self. We long to see an end to poverty and hunger in the world; we dream of a world where everyone has enough; we want to see the dignity, value and worth of every individual duly respected. What overwhelming aspirations, well beyond our reach! But Jesus reminds us that they are not too big, too distant, too disconnected from our own lives to be able to do something about them. Within our own limited circumstances we can be agents of peace and equality; we can help overcome poverty and need in the world. We can do this, right here, right now.