Saturday, October 31, 2015


For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29

“Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:10-11

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

Israel long held the honored place at the banquet of the Lord. However, they were not living up to that privilege.  Therefore, the notes from the New American Bible tell us, “In God’s design, Israel’s unbelief is being used to grant the light of faith to the Gentiles. Meanwhile, Israel remains dear to God, still the object of special providence, the mystery of which will one day be revealed.”[i]

Even though they went to a lower position, they remained favored by God.  “Although Israel has been unfaithful to the prophetic message of the gospel, God remains faithful to Israel. Proof of the divine fidelity lies in the existence of Jewish Christians like Paul himself. The unbelieving Jews, says Paul, have been blinded by the Christian teaching concerning the Messiah.”[ii]

Faith is what determines the place we have at the banquet of the Lord.  Despite whatever our actions might be that betray that faith or take it for granted, the Lord never turns away from us.  The greater our faith, the easier it might be to take the humble position at the foot of the table.  For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable no matter where we are seated.

In the recent Synod of the Family, there was a lot of media attention paid to discussions of divorced and remarried Catholics – specifically, would there be a path for them to return to Communion.  The participants wrestled with ways to achieve fuller participation of the divorced and remarried in Catholic life.
According to Christine Shenk writing in the National Catholic Reporter, “Of course, Pope Francis has the final word, but as anyone who has been paying attention realizes, his heart is set on the mercy of God rather than judgment.”[iii]

In his concluding synod speech, Pope Francis had harsh words for those "letter-of-the-law" types who "frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families." Rather, said Pope Francis, true defenders of church doctrine, "are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness."[iv]

Pope Francis went on to say that the Synod “was about making clear that the Church is a Church of the poor in spirit and of sinners seeking forgiveness, not simply of the righteous and the holy, but rather of those who are righteous and holy precisely when they feel themselves poor sinners.”

Divorced and remarried Catholics have been seated at the “lowest place” for years.  Maybe the comments of Pope Francis will give them hope of being asked to move up to the table “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” even if divorced or remarried.

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