Saturday, October 29, 2016

Take the Lowest Place

Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

“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

As the deer longs for streams of water,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, the living God.
When can I enter and see the face of God?  Psalm 42:2-3

Luke serves up another lesson at mealtime about mealtime – a banquet within a banquet.  Today, we join them dining at the home of a leading Pharisee and Jesus relates another story of a wedding banquet. 

First, despite the fact that the Pharisees were plotting against Jesus, we see the Christ frequently spending time with the Pharisees – continuing to try to break through to them just as He does with us every day. Jesus does not surround himself with only his friends and those who think just like he does.  He does not sort his company by political opinions, religious beliefs, poverty or health condition.  Jesus keeps a very diverse company but never changes his message no matter with whom he is spending time.

Be they the rich and powerful or the lowly, he continues to stress the primacy of humility in prayer, in social settings, to military leaders like the Centurion and to everyone.  “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”  (Matthew 11:29AB)

Jesus cautions about taking our own yoke.  He wants us to offer up our burdens and accept his.  He wants us to give up thirsting for what society, Main Street, Wall Street, Hollywood, or K Street has to offer.  He wants us to eschew cultural victory (sorry Cub fans) and accept defeat – defeat in this world which is a victory in his kingdom.  What victory and worldly power do you offer up? What can you give up so you thirst ONLY for God?

This morning I was listening to a long story on the radio about how the death penalty is applied to adults who commit murder but who are declared mentally incapacitated.  There is a test about whether someone with an IQ below 70 is capable of committing murder?  Then, there is the question about when to check that level?  Are tests of teenagers valid?  Are tests taken before the murder better?  What about tests that the defendant takes years later while in prison awaiting execution?

Wait just a minute!  If we abolish the death penalty in favor a life (without parole), this question goes away.  Let us learn from Jesus who forgave the repentant thief hanging on the cross next to him.  

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