Reflection 1st September 2019

A Reflection for the Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Lk: 14: 1, 7-14 ( 

Who do we invite?

The short readings that we hear at our Sunday Eucharist are rich sources of encouragement and nourishment. Indeed, they are life-giving.

There is a treasure trove of good advice in today’s first reading, from the Book of Ecclesiasticus: be gentle in carrying  our your business; behave humbly; a sensible heart will reflect on  parables. And the crowning nudge is ‘an attentive ear is the sage’s dream’ The sentiment is echoed by the gifted Mark Twain when he said “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have rather talked.”

But on occasion one can ask if a particular reading is just a bit over the top.

Today’s Gospel is a case in point.  In the first part, Jesus is giving his host and other listeners some advice on table etiquette.  The advice is direct and bears a lot of wisdom.

But then Jesus moves into dangerous territory about how and who we choose as guests! Indeed, it might be wise to skip the passage altogether. But if you insist on reading it, then be aware that it is one of those pieces of scripture that needs serious qualifications and a few asterisks leading the reader to some comforting small print.

How could you implement such suggestions if serious about organising a significant party or family event?  Jesus tells us not to invite relations and friends but to invite poor people, people who are lame and those who won’t invite you back. While it presents commendable aspirations, a fully inclusive approach is not practical. We don’t want to build ugly high walls of exclusion as some uncaring people might suggest.  But we prefer discreet low walls over which gestures of care can pass. Even conversations on occasion can take place. And we must always remember that we can pray for people in various needs. But we believe a border needs to be clear though, if possible, discreet.

Even when those ornate walls known as altar rails are removed, the foundation ‘the footings’ still remain.  People know their place and, in many ways, we prefer it that way.

The bottom line is that putting some of those inclusive ideas of Jesus into practice could be the death of you! 

Jim Owens – A Spiritan Associate, Jim is enjoying his retirement in Co. Meath where he and his wife Geraldine are actively involved in An Tobar, the Spiritan Spiritualty Centre in Ardbraccan.