Our Gospel lesson this morning from Luke is also set in a home during a meal. If you read through the Gospels much you will quickly see that their writers are almost preoccupied with food. Jesus was invited over to the home of a Pharisee for Sunday lunch—and they were watching him closely. But Jesus was also watching them closely. He noticed that the guests were all vying for the places of honor at the table, and he takes a moment to remind them of the virtue of humility. “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted,” he tells the guests.|
However, Jesus is also watching not only the guests, but also the host. He gives the host some advice as well, telling him not to invite the crowd that we can assume has gathered around the table that day: friends, relatives, or rich neighbors. Rather, he tells the Pharisee to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind who have no way to repay him with a sumptuous meal in return.
What does this all mean for us though? Often I would like to take this passage as a way to get out of inviting some of my family over to eat every now and then, but I am reluctant to embrace this teaching fully because I enjoy those family and friends gatherings. So I don’t think Jesus is telling us here not to eat with our friends and family and neighbors, but to be more inclusive with our fellowship. That is one of the reasons why the Anglican Church embraces the concept of an “open table” at communion—allowing anyone who wants to receive the spiritual nourishment at this table spread before us. This heavenly banquet that we share together is symbolic of so much more than we typically limit it to. We are to read this passage broadly, not narrowly. We are to hear in these words a call to be more open to others—especially those whom no one else ever calls.
Rev’d. Fr. Colin Humes