31.10.2020 — Tips for Avoiding Shame

Posted under Reflections on October 30th, 2020 by

30th Week in Ord. Time, Saturday – 31st October 2020 — Gospel:             Lk 14,1.7-11

Tips for Avoiding Shame

Jesus’ advice to choose a low place in the wedding banquet sounds pretty shrewd as it gives the hope of being directed to a more favorable position by the host publicly. But Jesus is interested in the arrangement of the banquet rather than the actual food. So, he tells the parable about receiving honour that emphasizes two components of banquet setting. First, selection of the seat; and second, invitation list. In an honour and shame culture, avoiding shame is of utmost importance for the participants. This is not simply embarrassment. Public shame may have tangible implications for the shamed. Sometimes, if the shame is significant, a family’s exchanging practices can be negatively carried forward by a public shaming. On the opposite end, public honour, which is determined by the host, may come to those who express humility.  Jesus’ statement in 14,11 confirms this offer. Jesus’ words also help us to understand the requirement for entering into God’s kingdom. He shows that those who take the lowest place are those who know their unworthiness and look to God’s grace to move up higher. For Jesus earthly life is only a microcosm of what life meant to be. Regarding our table manners, we may be thinking short term, while God views our position within the arc of the divine long-term perspective and according to God’s true table purposes.

30.10.2020 — Accepting Social Elite Honours

Posted under Reflections on October 29th, 2020 by

30th Week in Ord. Time, Friday – 30th October 2020 — Gospel:      Lk 14,1-6

Accepting Social Elite Honours

Luke’s gospel has a special emphasis to meal settings, in which he describes Jesus eating with everyone, whether they are tax collectors, or sinners, or religious leaders. Although Pharisees dispute with Jesus and sometimes express hostility toward him, Jesus continues to engage and dine with them. In fact, Luke 14,1 is the third dinner invitation Jesus accepts from a Pharisee (Lk 7,36-50; 11,37-43). This kind of collegiality and friendship can be difficult to understand, especially in a rigid religious and political situation of Jesus’ day. None can forget the complex relationship Jesus has with Pharisees in many instances. Some Pharisees felt that Jesus should have a distant relationship with ‘sinners and tax collectors’ that did not involve meals and foot washing (Lk 5,29-32; 7,34.36-50). Other Pharisees expected Jesus to wash his hands before all meals, not to heal desperate folks on Sabbath (Lk 6,6; 13,11), and not to allow his disciples to harvest and prepare food on the Sabbath (Lk 5,33-39; 6,1-5; 11,37-43). Yet, at times, the Pharisees were also amazed that Jesus could heal and forgive sins, and some even warned Jesus when Herod wanted to kill him (Lk 5,17-26; 13,31). Therefore, some suggest, because of the frequent invitations, Jesus must have been a Pharisee himself. Knowing that the Pharisees and the lawyers were watching him closely, of what they were thinking, and of how they will respond, Jesus accepts the invitation for a feast with the leader of the Pharisees on the Sabbath. It is an invitation he did not refuse, as it is a feast for the social elite of the hierarchy.  Perhaps this special invitation is for the wise, influential and admired Rabbis like Jesus.  However, Jesus’ primary intention was to open their hearts to see what God is doing through him. And he was focused to set free those in bondage so that all can enter into God’s kingdom and share in God’s banquet.

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