Homily for October 31st, 2016: Luke 14:12-14.
“When you hold a banquet,” Jesus says, “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” He directs these words to his host, whom Luke describes as “one of the leading Pharisees,” clearly a person of social prominence. We get an idea of the other guests at this Sabbath dinner from Jesus’ words about those his host should not invite: “your friends, your brothers or sisters or your relatives, or your wealthy neighbors.” Those were the people Jesus saw when he looked around him at this dinner. “They may invite you back,” Jesus says, “and you have repayment.”
Invite people, Jesus is telling his host, who cannot repay you. When you do that, Jesus says at the end of this brief gospel reading, “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” What Jesus clearly means is that then God will repay you. And his repayment is the only one worth receiving.
Instead of inviting people from whom you can expect gratitude and some kind of repayment, Jesus says, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. If you do that, Jesus continues, you will be “blessed indeed.” That means, you will be truly happy; for you will receive a reward which is infinitely beyond the greatest of earthly rewards, since it will come from God himself.
Jesus reinforces this teaching with his own example. When does he do this, you ask? He does it at every Mass! We who are Jesus’ invited guests at the table of Jesus’ word, and the sacramental table of his Body and Blood are spiritually poor. Our sins cripple us and make us lame. And too often we are blind to the greatness and depth of his love for us.
God loves each and every one of us as if, in the whole world, there were only
one person to love. St. Augustine
So this little story, about Jesus attending a dinner with a group of elite guests, turns out to be Good News for us. It tells us, once again, that Jesus loves us with a love that will never let us go.