Lectio Divina: Luke 14:12-14
1) Opening prayer
God of power and mercy,
only with Your help
can we offer You fitting service and praise.
May we live the faith we profess
and trust Your promise of eternal life.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - Luke 14:12-14
Jesus said to His host, "When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relations or rich neighbors, in case they invite you back and so repay you. No, when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid when the upright rise again."
• The Gospel today continues to present the teaching Jesus was giving on different themes, all related to curing in the setting of a banquet: a cure during a meal (Lk 14: 1-6), advice not to take the places of honor (Lk 14:7-12), and advice to invite the excluded (Lk 14:12-14). This organization of Jesus’ words around a particular word, for example, table or banquet, helps one to understand the method used by the first Christians to keep the words of Jesus in their memory.
• Luke 14:12: Interested invitation. Jesus is eating in the house of a Pharisee who has invited Him (Lk 14:1). The invitation to share at table is the theme of the teaching of today’s Gospel. There are different types of invitations: the interested invitations for the benefit of oneself and disinterested invitations for the benefit of others. Jesus says, "When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relations or rich neighbors, in case they invite you back and so repay you”. That was the normal custom of the people: to invite friends, brothers and relatives to eat. Nobody would sit at table with unknown people. They would sit around the table only with people who were their friends. That was the custom of the Jews. Even now we also act in the same way. Jesus thinks differently and orders us to invite unknown people. These were invitations which nobody made.
• Luke 14:13-14: Disinterested invitation. Jesus says “On the contrary, when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you. So you will be repaid when the upright rise again.” Jesus orders them and us to break the closed circle and asks us to invite the excluded, the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. This was not the custom then and it is not today either. But Jesus insists, “Invite these people”. Why? Because in the disinterested invitation, addressed to excluded and marginalized persons, there is a source of happiness: “And then you will be blessed for they have no means to repay you”. This is a strange type of happiness, a different happiness! You will be blessed for they have no means to repay you. It is the happiness that comes from doing a totally gratuitous gesture, without asking for anything. Jesus says that this is the happiness which God will give us in the Resurrection; the happiness of the Resurrection which He will give us not only at the end of history, but even now. To act in this way is to catch a glimpse of the happiness in the Resurrection!
• It is the Kingdom which will be confirmed. The advice which Jesus gives us in the Gospel today recalls the sending out of the seventy-two on the mission to announce the Kingdom (Lk 10:1-9). Among the different recommendations given on that occasion, as signs of the presence of the Kingdom, there is: (a) the invitation to the table and (b) the acceptance of the excluded: “Whenever you go into a town, where they make you welcome, eat what is put before you, cure those who are sick and say, the Kingdom of God is very near to you!” (Lk 10:8-9) Here, in these recommendations, Jesus orders the transgression of that norm of legal purity which prevented fraternal living together.
4) Personal questions
• An interested or disinterested invitation: which of these takes place in my life?
• If you invited people in a disinterested way, would this cause some difficulties? Which ones?
5) Concluding prayer
Yahweh, my heart is not haughty,
I do not set my sights too high.
I have taken no part in great affairs,
in wonders beyond my scope.
No, I hold myself in quiet and silence,
like a little child in its mother's arms,
like a little child, so I keep myself. (Ps 131:l-2)