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: I recall when I was a child during Thanksgiving there was two tables; the adult table that had the “Happy Juice” (alcohol) and then the cousins table (Childs Table) which had “juice that made us happy” (grape juice). I have always wondered for the reason of this separation, but I always attributed it to “The Juice”. Then once you were older and was invited to sit at the adult table but still under-age to drink, I realized that I preferred to sit with my cousins.
In today’s Gospel Jesus is saying that no one is excluded from the table of the Lord. He is saying that we shouldn’t do something and expect some type of reward, thanks, or acknowledgement for doing that act of kindness. He also is saying that the good we do will not be forgotten by Him. When “Judgement Day” arrives, He will remember all the good you did, and it is then when you will be rewarded. In prayer we offer what we do for God to God, knowing that this is reward enough?
On the other hand, why is it that we are sometimes averse to accepting offers of help? Is it that we dread the thought of being in debt to someone? Or, that we will now owe them a favor, and who knows when they will ask for a favor in return? Do we think that accepting someone’s offer to assist us is a sign of weakness? Could it be because we don’t want to be in debt to someone else, or that we will appear weak?
Or …. How about when you see that someone needs a helping hand, and you ignore it? How does that make you feel? Knowing that the gifts that God has blessed us with and we ignore the fact that we can use them.
There is this show on Netflix called “New Amsterdam”. It’s about the trials, tribulations, and situations at this public hospital in New York. The main character, Dr. Max Goodwin, who is the Medical Director of this massive hospital, bares heavy responsibilities and doesn’t really care about the financial stability of the hospital but only cares about his staff and the people who need help, his patients. So, his mantra throughout the series is “How can I Help”. He asks his patients that, his janitorial staff, his security guards, his doctors, and nurses … everyone. Using this concept and acting upon it, his staff have adopted that same notion. What would this world be like if we all used these words and meant them?
Luke reminds us that the help we offer to others should be extended without expectation of repayment. What we do to help, especially the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. Maybe the gifts we receive from others might be God working through that person and for our benefit, or for the benefit of those we, in turn, will aid through our actions.
So, “How can I help”?
ACTION OF THE DAY: As we do our Daily Examen and give thanks, let us focus more on prayers of gratitude for all of God’s irrevocable gifts, and less on praying only when we need a favor. And let us remember to give freely of our time, talent, and treasure without counting the cost or expecting anything in return.