The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
August 28th, 2022 – Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 14:1,7-14
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.
There seems to be a kind of immoral virus in some people that causes them to think that they are inherently better than others. Or that they deserve greater respect or be treated better than others. In today’s gospel, Jesus describes them as wanting to sit at the higher places at the banquet table. In a sense, they are self-promoters. They might be said to have a superiority complex.
I have an insatiable hunger for history, especially the history of places where I live. Currently, I am reading a recently published work called Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstructing America by Megan Kate Nelson. It presents in rich detail an account of how Yellowstone National Park was created as a “place for all,” while at the same time, ignoring the rights of Native Americans who populated that area for countless centuries.
This publication and research echo the history of African Americans who were first brought in chains from their African villages to serve as slaves for early white settlers. In other words, there’s a long history of white superiority that goes all the way back to the early days when Columbus first stepped onto American soil – which he thought was Asia.
I see today’s gospel as an invitation to make a personal examination of conscience to all of us. Our nation’s founding documents boldly state that we are all created equal. From that follows a moral imperative that we view each other, no matter what our background and who we are, as equals. And as sisters and brothers who all trace our existence to the loving act of God who created us. In God’s eyes, we are all loved, equally and fully.
And this can be extra hard to do in a country that sometimes thinks of itself as superior to others, to a racial identity that claims superiority, and even to a religion which judges itself as the best.
Like I said, this gospel calls forth an “examination of conscience.” It is a huge challenge to examine long-standing beliefs and prejudices that we have inherited from the moment of our conception and birth to the present day. Social bias can also be reinforced by an education that can be one-sided, by contact with people (even family and friends) with unexamined prejudices, and finally, to a powerful media that makes all sorts of implicit judgments about who is better and who is not. Finally, the execution of Jesus may be traced in part to silence his views on the profound equality of all people.
©David M. Thomas, PhD