Sunday Gospel Reflection
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 14:1, 7-14 | August 28, 2022
Party Do’s and Don’ts
Ministry of Lectors and Commentators
The Gospel reading (Luke 14:1, 7-14) talks about Jesus dining with the Pharisees while the people put him under scrutiny or careful observation. Knowing the events that have happened before, we can ask ourselves: Why did the Pharisees invite him to dinner? Jesus was not popular among them. So why would the Pharisees invite him? The last part of verse 1 also seems to have a negative connotation. Why was Jesus being very carefully watched? Was this invitation the start of a set up for Jesus that would lead to his Passion? These are some of the questions that popped into my mind while reading the first verse of chapter 14 of the Gospel of Luke.
Another thing that caught my attention while reflecting on this reading is the fact that verses 2 to 6 have been omitted for this Sunday’s Gospel reading. The “missing” part of this reading focuses on Jesus healing on the Sabbath a man who was suffering from an abnormal swelling of his body. Before this, Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts of the law whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. No one answered him, so he proceeded to heal the man and sent him on his way. Jesus asked the same people whether they would pull out immediately their child or ox that fell into a well on the Sabbath. He still got no response. Did the silence mean their answers were “yes”? Why were they silent? Was it because the questions Jesus posed to them made them uncomfortable? As Christians in the present time, how do we respond to these questions of Jesus?
Verses 7 to 14 continue describing what happens at the dining table. Jesus, upon observing the actions of the people invited for dinner, begins to narrate a parable, sharing do’s and don’ts for someone invited to a banquet, then focusing on the host telling them who should be in their guest list. The verses on where one should sit when invited to a banquet concludes with a reminder on humility: “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” This verse reminds me of Jesus’ humility, which is an essential virtue for us Christians. And his humility reminds me of his Incarnation.
Is there someone else humbler than him? He who is God and yet “…did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness…being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6–8). It’s not yet Christmas, but the image of swaddling clothes in a manger comes to mind, God freely choosing to be a fragile human to dwell among us. God took on the form of a servant, coming to serve and not to be served. And more importantly, he died for us on the cross and endured a torture so gruesome, even if the people he had come to save despise and reject him. What deep humility. But in the end, he was exalted, greatly exalted. He was highly exalted because of his humility and obedience even to the point of death. Are we capable of the same kind of humility and obedience? Are we ready to be inconvenienced for the sake of our brothers and sisters? Or do we only look out for ourselves?
Today’s Gospel reading concludes with Jesus’ advice to the host as to who should be invited to the banquet—the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind—people who have the inability to repay the host for their kindness. The last verse serves as a reminder for us to look to the future: “For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” The reward of everlasting life. Can we trust God completely, doing our best to serve in humility while letting him take care of the rest?
My last thoughts on this Gospel reading: I wonder how the dinner attended by Jesus ended. He probably made enemies, and hence, was not invited again to meals by the Pharisees. He likely made the host and guests angry and speechless, wondering why someone like him had the audacity to tell them what to do during banquets. How about you? Did his words touch your heart? Or did his words anger your ego?