GOSPEL READING: Luke 14:12-14
12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
Meditation: Who do you honor at your table? The Lord is always ready to receive us at his table. As far as we can tell from the Gospel accounts, Jesus never refused a dinner invitation! Why, in this particular instance, does Jesus lecture his host on whom he should or shouldn’t invite to dinner? Did his host expect some favor or reward from Jesus? Did he want to impress his neighbors with the honor of hosting the “miracle worker” from Galilee?
Generous giving doesn’t impoverish – but enriches the heart
Jesus probes our hearts as well. Do you only show favor and generosity to those who will repay you in kind? What about those who do not have the means to repay you – the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged? Generosity demands a measure of self-sacrifice. However, it doesn’t impoverish, but rather enriches the soul of the giver. True generosity springs from a heart full of mercy and compassion. God has loved us first, and our love for him is a response of gratitude for the great mercy and kindness he has shown to each one of us. No one can outmatch God in his generous love and kindness towards us. Do you give freely as Jesus gives without seeking personal gain or reward?
Lord Jesus, your love never fails and your mercies abound. You offer us the best of gifts – peace, pardon and everlasting friendship with you at your banquet table. Fill me with gratitude for your great mercy and kindness towards me. And may I never fail to show kindness and mercy towards all I meet so that they may know the mercy and goodness you offer them as well.
16 Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
29 But I am afflicted and in pain; let thy salvation, O God, set me on high!
30 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
32 Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
33 For the LORD hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
34 Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves therein.
35 For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; and his servants shall dwell there and possess it;
36 the children of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: First and last at the banquet table, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)
“‘When,’ he says, ‘a man more honorable than you comes, he that invited you and him will say, ‘Give this man place.’ Oh, what great shame is there in having to do this! It is like a theft, so to speak, and the restitution of the stolen goods. He must restore what he has seized because he had no right to take it. The modest and praiseworthy person, who without fear of blame might have claimed the dignity of sitting among the foremost, does not seek it. He yields to others what might be called his own, that he may not even seem to be overcome by empty pride. Such a one shall receive honor as his due. He says, ‘He shall hear him who invited him say, ‘Come up here.’ …If any one among you wants to be set above others, let him win it by the decree of heaven and be crowned by those honors that God bestows. Let him surpass the many by having the testimony of glorious virtues. The rule of virtue is a lowly mind that does not love boasting. It is humility. The blessed Paul also counted this worthy of all esteem. He writes to those who eagerly desire saintly pursuits, ‘Love humility.'”(excerpt from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 101)