Thursday

Do you invite the poor to your Easter banquet?

By Paul Dion, STL

Jesus said to the man who had invited Him: "When you make a dinner or a supper, don't call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbors, or perhaps they might also return the favor, and pay you back. But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; and you will be blessed, because they don't have the resources to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke chapter 14, verses 12 to 14)

The other day a group of Catholic School Teachers, I among them, were sitting around a table drinking coffee and tea and talking about what it means to make the message of the Gospel known these days. The leader of the group read the quote that appears above and asked if any of the members of the group had ever practiced Jesus' outspoken directive. There were actually two or three.

Their stories are interestingly similar. Listen...

They had experienced similar invitations in their own extended family, if not in their immediate family. They had been at such meals where the neighborhood loner would be invited at Thanksgiving and Christmas. They had a grandmother who was a lousy cook but who fed all the neighborhood children anyway, with or without invitation.

The responders said that these meals were taken at a common table, in their own home, or that of their grandfather's, etc.

Could you imagine yourself inviting the Pastor of your parish over for dinner and hearing him say, "I notice that you haven't invited any maimed people. Don't you know a widow who could use a little company and a nice meal with us?" Or worse yet, "Would you mind if I invite old Mrs. Shakalot? Three doors from you. I could bring her along."

How would you respond to that? If you had ever done it before anyway, it wouldn't faze you. Have you ever done it before? Would you do it now that you know that Jesus directs us to do it?

Some suggestions? How about Easter Sunday? Memorial Day; July 4; Labor Day; Thanksgiving; Christmas and new Year's day, not to mention your birthday, or the widow's!

Share your thoughts with us. Tell us your story.

2 comments:

  1. Guilty Conscience in Corona, CA6:19 PM

    Guilty. I plead guilty. I talk the Christian talk. But haven't really walked the Christian walk. Now I also feel guilty about the many times when I looked away as poor beggars tried to get my attention as I wait for the green light at the freeway onramps. Our safety-conscious culture frown upon inviting strangers into our house. But maybe it's time that I see more of Christ in the poor people around us.

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  2. Some five years ago, wife and I were in Jerusalem at the Tantur International Ecumenical Bible Institute. There were 20 of us there. The director of the institute asked us this question during one of our many "classes." We said that we had done this every Christmas and Thanksgiving and some times in between for the people in the neighborhood...one old gentleman in particular. We and our children looked forward to having this "cranky" original with us and our other guests. So did our "normal" invitees like cousins and such denizens of our extended family. We all came to know him better over the years.
    The director did not know how to react to our answer. He expected a 100% "never" from everyone. He had never in many years of asking the question received a positive answer. He and our peers asked us so many questions about our "experience."
    What they do not know is that one April, after our return to North America, our neighbor asked us to help him to die with dignity. He had suffered from leukemia for several years (we knew) and this was the end for him. Our boys were too young to be of great help, or so we thought. As it turns out, the four of us each played a role and our Mr. Hood appreciated everything that we did for him and with him during his passage from one life to the next. One of his parting comments will never be forgotten: "Thanks for the help, Paul. You know, I'm not very experienced about this dying business."
    All we can say is, Jesus knew what He was talking about when He challenged us to this line of action. Oh, and that part about not being able to repay us...I think He goofed there. The return is immense...I know, I know. He knew that too.
    Paul Dion, STL ParishWorld.net Theology Editor

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