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Radical Love Triumphs
For most of human history wisdom was largely part of an oral tradition. From one generation to the next, wisdom was passed down. These days it sometimes seems that technology has replaced that tradition of shared wisdom. Rather than ask a trusted elder the temptation is to pull out a smartphone and do a quick Internet search. Next thing you know, there it is, wisdom at your fingertips—maybe. Could it be that something is lost in the process? We can find facts online, but virtues like humility, respect of elders, hospitality, servanthood, and peacemaking do not seem to translate as easily in the electronic age. In the gospel reading Jesus takes the time to pass on some ancient-yet-prudent wisdom from the proverbs of Solomon to a crowd of social climbers who obviously were not familiar with such prudence or wisdom.
More significantly Jesus lifts up the mysteriously gracious and life-transforming values of the kingdom of God. Jesus lifts up the humility required to take the lowest seat at the table, never hoping to be invited to a place of greater honor or status. Jesus invites his followers to practice the hospitality that offers a banquet of the finest of foods for people who cannot repay. Jesus invites his followers to embody the kind of radical-yet-relational love of Jesus himself. This radical love is taught by both individuals and congregations. Communities of faith by their practices of generosity and compassion embody the love of Jesus in their communities.
Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14
Jesus observes guests jockeying for position at the table. He uses the opportunity to teach his hearers to choose humility rather than self-exaltation. Jesus also makes an appeal for hosts to imitate God’s gracious hospitality to those in need.
1On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
7When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”