Reflection: Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Ecc.3:19-21,30-31; Ps.67; 2nd Reading – Heb.12:18-19,22-24; Gospel – Lk.14:1,7-14]

“PLACES OF HONOUR”

In today’s Gospel we find Jesus at the house of a “leading” Pharisee where he was invited for a meal and this is not the first time we find Jesus at some Pharisee’s house, surrounded by other Pharisees. The scenario is set in the intimacy of a home and therefore Jesus can address the person who invited him into this house in a more personal way. At the same time Jesus takes this opportunity also to speak to the others who were invited to the meal as well.

In the Gospel reading, we are told that while the Pharisees “watched” him closely, Jesus “noticed” how they picked the places of honour. So Jesus is, in fact, initially addressing those who were invited to the meal by the “leading” Pharisee. Jesus is giving them instructions on what to do when they are invited and in particular where to sit, so that they could avoid any embarrassment – how, when invited, they should not take any presumption around where to expect to sit because the host is the one who should be guiding them to their appropriate places. Also, if the host had not provided any seating guidance upon arrival, then they should take the lowest places – and the host will take care of them from there.

Jesus’ teaching is more than just about etiquette – it is also about how one should put himself in the presence of God. If we consider God as the host who invites us to the intimacy of his dwelling and spend some time with Him, then as guests, we should wait for Him to tell us where to sit. Since He invited us, He knows where our place should be. If this is the manner in which we “humble ourselves”, then God will take care to exalt us.

When Jesus finished his teaching to the guests, he then turns his attention towards the host. Jesus speaks about whom to invite. He must have “noticed” that many of the guests were, most probably, “friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbours” of the host. This observation motivates Jesus’ discourse to him. In simple words, Jesus tells him that when he organises something, his main aim should not be to seek or expect “the repayment of the courtesy” by being invited back by them. In truth Jesus does not speak about what the aim of the “party” should be because it is not the focus of the message he is trying to teach. Jesus only says that the guests invited should be “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…” i.e. people who “cannot pay back” the invitation. Therefore the party organised is to be for people who cannot repay back. They cannot repay back because they have nothing to repay with – except their total reliance on God! This repayment is something that the Father in Heaven will take good care of. Furthermore, it is through the host that the Father provides for the poor and it is through them (the poor) that the host will be repaid by the Father. Therefore the same host will be exalted for humbling himself by inviting “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…

“Lord, you take every opportunity to talk to those who are ready to listen to you. Give us the courage to invite You to the intimacy of our house so that you can teach us how to be able to put our trust in God and to receive from Him his love and exaltation. Thank you Lord!”

 

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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