Luke 14:1, 7-14
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. Do you 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 of Jesus 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 we are invited to 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.
Luke 14:1, 7-14 (NRSV)
1 One sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him.
7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,
8 "When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him;
9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give place to this man,' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.
10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, 'Friend, go up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.
11 For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
12 He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a 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.
13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind,
14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."