The Gospel according to Luke (14:12-14)
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees.
He said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Reflection: This Gospel reading reminds me of another scripture from the Old Testament which is in the Book of Isaiah.
All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat. Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! -Isaiah 55:1-3
We are all guilty sometimes of reaching out to someone in exchange for something you need from them. You may not have done this intentionally because it is common for some instances. For example, in the business world it is common to “wine and dine” a potential customer to achieve whatever it is that you are trying to do. I know that I did when I worked in the architectural design industry. There were many times when I would fly out to an active or potential jobsite and conduct business. After the business part was over then I would seek out the people who were the “decision makers” and take them for lunch or dinner.
In our world today there are too many people that are hungry, thirsty, naked, and un-loved. I see it every day at Mary’s Mercy Center (MMC) which is San Bernardino. For those that don’t know, MMC is a place where they feed, clothe, and allow daily showers to the unprivileged, the marginalized, or the alienated. It’s a place for them to hang out and be safe. It’s a place that offers simple things that we don’t think of such as restrooms or a place to brush their teeth. None of these folks are screaming for help but we all know that they need it. These folks are beautiful people that are actually a joy to converse with. After our brief conversation, they offer their help to do something in gratitude for what MMC offers them. How is that for “flipping” the coin?
In our Gospel today, Jesus warns us about having ulterior motives in relation to how we act towards one another. Responding to a situation that will give the glory to us or that in some way will gratify our own needs. We must not seek reward for our actions towards others and how we take care of them but always do what is best for them. We need to treat them with the respect they deserve without expecting anything in return. Or how about this, just stopping, having a conversation, and then asking their name.
Jesus wants us to follow him into a more liberating purpose in our relationships with the people that we don’t know or with the people that we walk by sometimes. He challenges us to bless, benefit, and befriend those who cannot repay us for our interest, concern, and kindness. Doing so leaves the rewards of our actions as the essential blessing of helping someone else and a deep trust that what we do and how we do it, matters to our God — and God will remember!
Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! -Isaiah 55:3
Action of the Day: I call to mind those who are without the advantages I enjoy: Jesus wishes such blessings for them too. How can I wish anything less for them? What might I do to express my gratitude to God for being so good to me?