30 August 2013

God Pause for Friday, 30 August 2013

Friday:  Luke 14.12-14
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.”  
Parables are hard work, especially oblique ones like this.  The first temptation is to spiritualize the parable, to interpret “the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” as people who are all those things in spirit.  But this is the Gospel of Luke, where the Beatitudes are specifically NOT spiritual.  In Luke, Jesus says “Blessed are the poor.”  Period.

There’s two things going on here.  First, Jesus is exposing the way we use people and keep track of favors owed, love expressed, etc.  Our relationships are not to be commodified.  Second, Jesus is reminding us that if it’s accounting we’re after, it’s not our friends who matter:  it’s God.  Want to put a good mark in the ledger of righteousness?  Invite those who can’t repay you.  Period.

But it’s the last four words that hold my attention.  “The resurrection of the righteous.”  All the accounting in the world can’t make us righteous.  That’s what Jesus does for us.  So stop keeping track of the poor and the rich, the lame and the healthy, the blind and those who can see.  See the people around you, all of them, as God’s beloved children, because that’s how Jesus sees them.

Mighty God, rip away our selfish and short-sighted weighing of relationships.  Show us the world through your cross, where all your children are made righteous in your love alone.  Amen.

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