Table of God: An invitation for everyone
A few years ago I was invited to be one of the vocal soloists at the wedding of the daughter of my second cousin.
Although I knew her mother fairly well, I had actually never met the bride, so at the reception hall I seated myself at a table with the other wedding guests.
I had just begun to join the long buffet line when my cousin sought me out and invited me to the head table. I proceeded with some surprise to my new seat, where there was not only a place card with my name on it, but attentive wait staff standing by to bring me the food I had prepared to wait in line for.
Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
in Ordinary Time
(Sunday, Sept. 2, 2007)
Psalms 68:4-7, 10-11
Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a
Luke 14:1, 7-14
The unexpected honor that day reminded me of today's parable in which Jesus imparts some commonsense advice on social etiquette but also teaches more profoundly about those who are to be included at the table of the reign of God.
True to form, he names those in his culture who would be least expected to receive an invitation - the "poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind."
Clearly this is no abstract or imaginary banquet but one that should occur with regularity, as he instructs his host, "when you hold a lunch or a dinner." God's inclusiveness, praised by the psalmist as giving a "home to the forsaken," is brought about by those in a position to do the inviting without expectation of return.
This approach is at the heart of the "new covenant" which Jesus "mediates," according to the writer of Hebrews. While mediation is usually thought of in terms of reconciling two parties in conflict, it also can describe a "medium" that transfers something from one place to another.
When did you last move beyond your "comfort zone" to extend God's love to another?
When have you been surprised by God's unexpected graciousness to you?
Ever the generous host, Jesus becomes the mediating means of extending God's justice and merciful love beyond the children of Abraham to an entirely new group of people.
Likewise, by thinking and acting outside my limited comfort zone, I can be a means of bringing God's embrace to one who might not normally expect to receive it. And by practicing humility, I might even experience God's love coming to me in new, unexpected, and surprising ways.
This column is offered in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.
This week's readings
Week of September 2 - 8, 2007
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I: Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Reading II: Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a
Gospel: Lk 14:1, 7-14
Monday, September 3, 2007
Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Church
Reading I: 1 Thes 4:13-18
Gospel: Lk 4:16-30
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Reading I: 1 Thes 5:1-6, 9-11
Gospel: Lk 4:31-37
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Reading I: Col 1:1-8
Gospel: Lk 4:38-44
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Reading I: Col 1:9-14
Gospel: Lk 5:1-11
Friday, September 7, 2007
Reading I: Col 1:15-20
Gospel: Lk 5:33-39
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Reading I: Mi 5:1-4a or Rom 8:28-30
Gospel: Mt 1:1-16, 18-23 or 1:18-23
Pope's Prayer Intentions
September General Intention
Romanian Assembly. That the ecumenical assembly in Romania this month may contribute to the growth of unity among all Christians.
September Mission Intention
Missionaries. That, following Christ joyfully, all missionaries may know how to overcome the difficulties they meet in everyday life.
Prayer for the summer season
ALMIGHTY and most merciful God, before our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned, they lived and were very happy in the Garden of Eden. There, as we read in the Holy Book, You would walk with them "in the afternoon air," and they heard the sound of You in the garden.
God, ever since then, a garden is a holy thing. You still walk there with us in the afternoon air. You walk with those who can see You and Your generous and merciful providence working for us in the green things that grow and the trees that blossom and bear such rich and nourishing fruit.
Bless all our gardens and orchards in this broad land of ours, dear God, and give us rich and plentiful harvest. Help us, as we go about our work here, to see You in Your loving kindness, working for us and with us.
Help us to do Your will at all times. Then, some day, we will walk with You and Your Son, and our dear Mother Mary, down the paths of another Garden, far better, far more beautiful than even the Garden of Eden. Amen.
From the National Catholic Rural Life Conference