The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
September 1, 2019 – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 14:7-14
Luke’s gospel is filled with meals. It’s said he was a physician, but maybe he was a chef on the side. In his gospel there are at least ten stories of Jesus eating with others. But, as today’s gospel suggests, meals (especially those involving guests) were not just about satisfying hungry appetites. They were also about creating or recognizing social standing.
Jesus warns about taking a place at the table above your social position. If that’s recognized by the host, he will likely tell you to take a less-esteemed position, like the seat right next to the noisy kitchen. In that sense, Jesus was simply offering what might seems to be common sense advice. So why is this story included in the gospel? Is there a deeper truth being offered to us?
I think it might have to do with how God rates us. We might wonder whether God has favorites, a first, a second, a third and so forth. We know that secular society rates people all the time. It positions people according to all sorts of things: looks, background, education, accomplishments, financial holdings, appearance. Even religious affiliation. Lots of calculations are being processed about all of us. That’s the way the world works.
But, again, what about God? Does God rate us or have favorites? Let me answer this by telling you about someone I feel is almost as bright as God, namely my mom. I come from a family where I was the oldest. I had three younger sisters. When I was growing up, for all kinds of irrational and stupid reasons, I felt I was better than my sisters. So, I falsely thought that I should be privileged in certain matters. Like I should get the largest piece of pie or first choice as to where I would sit in our family car. After all. I was the first born and I was a boy! I was quite unenlightened at that time.
Some nights my mom would make a desert for us kids. One of my favorites was chocolate pudding. So, she set out four bowls on the kitchen counter to be filled for us. But here’s where mom showed her maternal brilliance. The rule was that the one in charge of filling the bowls (we took turns) was last to pick a bowl. Thus, the measured-out of portions were absolutely equal! Not a molecule of difference between the four bowls.
And that’s the way it is with God. No favoured seats at the table. No one was loved any more than any others. Everyone is loved equally. That’s about as countercultural as one can imagine. That’s quite a challenge for us in a world seemingly intent on creating inequality.
©David M. Thomas, PhD
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Download this simple Observe-Judge-Act method for discussion with your family or your CFM group.