Gospel Reflections

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luc 14 : 1, 7 - 14

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Nina Vandamme

Published: September 01, 2019

The first thing that strikes me when I read this Gospel lesson – and I have read it so often already and never stopped thinking about this – is that people watch each other. And yes, Jesus watches people too. Isn’t this something we do automatically, almost without any awareness that we’re doing it? We are always watching people. Is there anything wrong with that? Not as such, but what is behind all this? It is not only Jesus, but the Pharisees who are watching as well. The question is: “How and why do we do this? What disposition drives us to do this?” The starting point can vary: How do I, how do you watch people? With what attitude, with which perspective, with what concern, based on what assumption? Is my watching unbiased? Or have I already placed it in a context or pre-programmed it? Am I aware that I often do this? The urge is sometimes stronger than me!

Let’s look through the Pharisees’ glasses for a moment. What perspective do they watch from? On the one hand, they are fascinated by Jesus: they want to be close to him. On the other hand, they put some distance between him and themselves: “Who is He? Can He be trusted? Doesn’t He disturb, disrupt our routine too much?” Do they truly choose Jesus? Or do they choose rather what the law says? Or does Jesus offend them?

Let’s now look through Jesus’ glasses for a moment. He is focused on how people behave and wants to show them a way that leads to life. He does this out of “concern for people,” because He loves people as they are. Jesus wants to raise them up, to invite them to go a step further, to discover the true riches of love. He knows that we would really like to be “first.” But Jesus points out that it’s not about being first or last. Why do we want so much to be “first” and to avoid being “last,” whatever it takes? Let’s just stand side by side in an open circle around Him and look at Him. Let’s watch Him, emulate Him, grow in his way of love. He vouches for us and lifts us out of our narrow-mindedness. He raises us up, there’s nothing He’d rather do than lift people up by letting them discover purpose and meaning through their way of life, through their being. Why am I so eager to lift myself above others? Let me be honest, I don’t have the right, no one has the right to lift themselves up. Being lifted up is good only if it happens to you, only if it is given by the other and above all by the Other, by God. And it is precisely this that gives us wings; this is a raising up that makes us free, will let us soar.

Jesus then turns to the host who had invited Him, suggests that he look at those whom he invites to a banquet. Give priority to people who do not count, who are not invited anywhere, and are not in a position to do anything in return. Jesus invites his host to share and continue to share from his heart, to lift up these guests by giving them status and letting them know that they “are seen” and that they “count.” Do we understand what it means for people who are never noticed that they are suddenly “seen” and even “invited”?  

Don’t I want to be “seen”? Don’t you want to be “seen”? What does it do to a person when she is “seen”? Watch people, but really “SEE” them and act accordingly.
•    Raising yourself, humiliating another ... doesn’t that sound and seem essentially like an abuse of power?
•    Does my way of life lift others up? Where do I allow room for others to receive their fair due?

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