TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR OF LUKE
28th August 2016
Is it insecurity, thoughtlessness or plain selfishness, that lies behind the tendency today for people to think first of what they can get instead of what they can give? For example, calling a company for help with their product begins with their question “How can I help?” and often proceeds by making things as difficult and obstructive as possible for the enquirer. Perhaps their question means “How can help myself and keep the customer at bay?”
The setting of today’s gospel is a Sabbath meal. It’s not about eating; it’s about people-watching. First, Jesus is invited so that his behaviour can be observed. But he in turn notices their behaviour. He sees that the gathering is an opportunity for them to assert their status. While they are thinking, “How can I manipulate this occasion to my own advantage?” Jesus tells them how to avoid embarrassment – by pretending to be humble! In other words, he shows them that conscious self-depreciation is pride in disguise, an ego trip. But for the Pharisees to see it, they need what they lack - a sense of humour.
The way to unmask and deflate pride, Jesus goes on, is in service of others. If you confine the world to yourself, it remains a very small place. But reach out to the disadvantaged, the poor, the sick, the hungry, and enter their world by inviting them into yours – giving and generosity enlarges our hearts and our outlook. We do not expect them to repay us for our kindness – we give without thought of it – but if they do invite us, then we should respond to the privilege.
It is peace with God, consideration of others and generosity of spirit which will transform the world.
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