My dear friends in Christ,
To the people of Jesus’ day, your status, who you mixed with and your reputation were important social considerations; especially if you wanted ‘to be somebody’ and ‘get on in life’. Jesus’ words in the opening paragraph to this week’s gospel looks like a lesson in achieving these ambitions; on how to get the top seat at the table by starting at the bottom, and how to avoid starting at the top of the table only to find oneself moved to the bottom. This practical wisdom seems to be about how not to be shamed in public, and how to be wise enough so that you are more likely to be honoured. One could be mistaken for thinking that Jesus is promoting the pursuit of worldly honour which smacks of ego driven self-advancement. We know of course that Jesus – and his kingdom- are not about such things. In a well-practised tactic, he uses the familiar to lead people to the unfamiliar; from the superficial to the substantial. The narrative revolves around the issue of ‘being honoured’. This can mean different things to different people. However you interpret it, in Jesus’ eyes, being honoured is about experiencing the blessedness of the kingdom. This is not something we can craft or engineer for ourselves, it is given through the graciousness and action of the host, who is God. The virtue of humility is the key because, as the antidote to presumption and assumption, it disposes us to the flow of divine blessedness.
I’m taking a break this coming week. First of all, I’m flying out to Spain on Thursday for a few days to conduct my niece’s wedding and then, following that, I’m heading to the US to visit my friends Donald & Stephanie (the same friends I visited in the Spring). We welcome back Fr Martin Joyce who will be ‘manning the fort’ while I am away. Sharon will also be around so the parish office will be functioning as usual. But keep an eye on her because ‘when the cat’s away, the mice come out to play!’
Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you on my return.
God Bless and have a good week,