Phil 1, 18b-26; Lc 14, 1,7-11
In any case, Jesus thereupon said to the man who invited him: "When you give a dinner or banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid; But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just", (v. 13-14).
Here, Jesus is breaking with a rule which is functioning until today in all cultures of the world: that invitation and return invitation must be kept in balance; the rule of reciprocity.
This is a rule, which really does not fit Jesus at all. He checks up the games we are playing with one another, and that usually are steered by our own profit. He puts himself on the side the poor, the cripple and the blind: those who fall out with our party games. The reconciliation he is looking for, is certainly not provided by the blind and the poor. But God is involved! This unbalance makes us think.
- Jesus shows us the marvellous freedom and dignity which we can gain, if we do not get in¬volved in the small game of: Who is the biggest? What can I impose on others? Do I get back what I invested? Jesus draws us out of these bad games
- Jesus asks us: Why are you so conventional, so unoriginal? Why do you so try to conform to established rules and habits? Why not do things in a different way, and see what happens You will experience something you did not expect! God might make somewhat out of it. Because:
- To break with the old games, and to do things in another way, that is what Jesus recommends. These are the dynamics to which God sticks. Through these dynamics, God wants to change the world.
Remember the parabola of the guests unwilling to attend the banquet. "Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor en maimed and blind and lame". (Lc. 14, 21) There they are again! Those who were excluded from the table communion. Exactly those who cannot extend a return invitation! They are Gods favorite guests.
Where are we in this unbalance? We cannot reimburse God for what we received. There-fore: If we invite persons who cannot invite us in return, we make common cause with God! We do the same thing as God does. This dynamic has a transforming, healing power. It really provokes changes.
To "sit in the lowest place", that is what Jesus steadfastly did. He sat down in the lowest place, together with sinners, children, the sick; he sat down at the feet of his disciples. Saying: "I am among you as one who serves" (Lc 22, 27).
This is how God acts not by a game of reciprocity, but a commitment to an unbalanced service; service which is transforming the world.
In the first reading we read from Paul's letter to his beloved community at Phillipi. In it, he ex¬presses how his divine mission is linked up with the inner experience and growth as a person, and his union with Jesus Christ.
During this General Synod in Rome, we have been working on the restructuring of our Congrega¬tion. How did we report on it to our beloved community? What were the dynamics we were in¬volved in? Did we invite those who will not invite us in return? Did we stick the rules? Did we also sit dawn with the those who, as a rule, are not invited to the banquet? Were we really united with Christ?