From the Pastor

Jesus and the Table

Dear Growing Disciples of Our Lady of Perpetual Help,

In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges the social structure of the Pharisees and teaches his hosts and their guests some profound lessons in humility. Pharisees maintained deep social divisions between who they considered “holy” and “unholy,” rich and poor, honored and despised. They didn’t invite someone to a banquet or dinner who couldn’t reciprocate. And the lowly, the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind had no capacity to reciprocate.

Sharing a meal is probably one of the most fundamental human experiences.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus is at table with people who have issues with his mission.  It’s one of the many stories in Luke about “Table Fellowship”.  Scholars suggest that Luke’s parishioners needed to be as hospitable as the Master, and Luke offers two challenges from Jesus. 

First, when you are a guest, take the less important seat.  In the Christian community, Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, women and men, high ranking and low, all come together.  The Kingdom calls us to a radical humility, a letting go of status. 

Second, a host in Jesus’ time only invite those who invite you in return, you’d never invite poor people because they could never reciprocate.  The guest list that Jesus proposes is radical: the poor, the lame, and the blind.  They were the objects of charity, not dinner guests.  What Jesus is proposing, would have been socially difficult for wealthy Christians, but it’s what the Kingdom demands. 

So for us, two thousand years later, there still remain challenges and questions.  Who, if anyone would feel unwelcomed at Our Lady of Perpetual Help? Who might be left out by any choices we may have made?  Who takes priority?  Who has to wait?  How do we welcome newcomers?  Do you and I create a better community by our attitude towards those challenged    physically or emotionally?

As good disciples, we realize that if we embrace a humility that allows us to be generous to those who cannot repay us, we can give evidence of having the kind of heart that will enjoy the Lord’s intimate friendship. This week let’s reflect on our attitude towards those who cannot repay our generosity. What is the extent of our hospitality toward others? Are we generous with those who cannot repay us?

Jesus’ “Table Fellowship” sounds a lot like the priorities of Pope  Francis.  We are called to make a place at the table for everyone.  Then we will be blessed as promised by Jesus in today’s Gospel.  Blessed by those who cannot repay in human terms, and by our God, who lifts up the poor and repays us all in the Kingdom.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. Greg



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