R (9)

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 28 August 2022

Who Invited Him?

Meals that you invite guests to take a lot of time and effort to prepare, so I would not have blamed the person who invited Jesus to a meal and put in a lot of work preparing that meal, if they had asked him to leave.

Jesus challenges the Lawyers and the Pharisees among the guests, he criticises those jockeying for positions at the table and then instructs the host about whom to invite to the next meal. By both ancient and modern standards Jesus might be called a rude guest.

The meal that Jesus attends is of social importance, to which people of one class are invited and where there is an implied sharing of values and ideas. The status and rank of individuals are legitimised by their inclusion in the guest list and their location on the seating chart. This is all neat and tidy in the sphere of human interaction; however, the Meal that Jesus invites them and us to is something greater, more radical, and disturbing.

The meal Jesus invites us to represents the inbreaking and anticipated rule of God where humanity’s “neat and tidy” spheres of interaction i.e. circles of power, are shown up for what they are: self-perpetuating systems of bias and prejudice that exclude rather than include.

The hospitality Jesus offers takes on those self-serving interests by proposing invitations to different groups: the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. These groups fall beyond (a) the usual categories of family, friends, and neighbour and (b) Jewish law – where they would have been treated as unclean.

As it was then, so it is today that Jesus challenges us to show hospitality that cannot be repaid in this life. He urges a social system without reciprocity; where the marginalised become members of society again and are no longer outside the circle of power.

Christ’s presence and his words open the way for the transformed structures of Te Rangatiratanga:  the Kingdom of God.

Fr Stephen Berecz

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