Saturday

02 June 2012

"When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid." (v. 12)

Background

Following on from yesterday's passage , Jesus' wisdom and insight from 'observations from a Sabbath meal' continue. Earlier he had watched with interest as guests worked out the seating arrangements for the occasion. He had no doubt noted who wanted to sit where, as well as who may have had to be re-seated by the hosts when other guests arrived. Instead of cringing inwardly and dismissing the observation, Jesus offers words of wisdom in a parable which may well have annoyed some guests, while it may well have got others thinking. Jesus had concluded that those who lift themselves up will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be lifted up (verse 11).

Here, we see Jesus taking on the host for a one-on-one life lesson about the guest list. He suggests that instead of inviting friends and family who could afford to eat at home or lay on a similar spread, consider inviting those who would not be able to return the favour, such as those with low mobility, no mobility, no sight and no cash. Now, that would have been a guest list worth seeing! That single suggestion sparked off a conversation about what that might mean which gave Jesus the perfect opportunity to use the invitation to a meal as a parable for an invitation to salvation and eternal life. Who would have thought that a Sabbath meal would have taken on such deep significance?

In the conversation, Jesus began to demonstrate the kind of inclusion that he would later pray for and the kind of selflessness that a range of charities hold at the core of their work. It is mirrored in the prayer of St Francis of Assisi, which forms the basis of a popular hymn, and which the late Mother Theresa quoted in her address to the United Nations. History is punctuated with people who took this parable to heart and made it part of the way they live in community with God and others.

To Ponder

Draw up a guest list of people with whom you might like to share a meal. Does it include anyone who 'could not return the favour'?

Would you consider praying these words from the prayer of St Francis of Assisi?
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

And how might you be an answer to this prayer?

Bible notes author: The Revd Katei Kirby

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