You’re Invited – (and so is everyone else)

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 1, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our readings share the common theme of humility, instructing us that the virtue is essential to our salvation.

Lk14_11 humbled

Humility, of course, gets a bad rap in our dominating, “me” culture. We tend to think of humiliation, servitude, inelegance rather than the actual root of the word: humus -“of the earth”.

I was fascinated last week by a small fracas arising from the unconsidered remarks of one of our Phillies baseball players. The team has been running hot and cold – with a little bit too much cold for some fans. The famous Philly “boos” have been flying. Frustrated with these, outfielder Sean Rodriguez referred to the disgruntled fans as “entitled”. 

angry

Uh oh! They didn’t like that. We prefer to think of ourselves as “deserving “, right?

Humility is that virtue which helps us realize that we are not “entitled” or “deserving” of anything over and above other human beings. It roots us in the respect for each other that refuses to rank the worth of other human beings. 

The social leverage that comes from wealth, power, and influence can beguile us. We become lost in a maze of stereotypes, rankings and prejudices which are the foundation of social injustice.

 

We hear among ourselves justifying phrases for our entitlement like:

  • well, I earned what I have
  • at least I paid for it
  • “they” need to work if they want to have …(food, healthcare, housing…)
  • it’s their own fault for … (dropping out of school, taking drugs, ….)
  • that’s just the way it is in “those” countries. The people are …(lazy, stupid, violent …)
  • “they” don’t need what I need. “They” are used to being … (poor, disabled, sick …)

And probably the most dangerous of all the phrases:

  • it’s not my problem
  • I’m not the one exiling, bombing, blocking, trafficking, enslaving “them”

Today’s readings enjoin us: it is my problem. My attitude, choices, vote, conversation, and lifestyle matter at the banquet of life we are all meant to share.

My intention to humbly join and rejoice with all Creation, to take a seat beside and never above my sister and brother – this is my “entitlement” to the one banquet that matters.

When you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Music:  A Place at the Table – Lori True and Shirley Elena Murray

Come to the Feast!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

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Today, in Mercy, we are back at “the banquet” – that divine communion where we are all one in God – even the poor, crippled, lame and blind from yesterday’s reading.

Lk14_15 dine kingdom

But there’s a little different twist to this story.  This time, we are the ones invited, but we fail to attend due to multiple bogus excuses:

  • we’ve gotten married
  • we bought a cow
  • we bought a field
  • we bought not one, but FIVE yoke of oxen

You get the gist… all those preoccupying duties that keep us bound. Not to make a pun, but, Holy Cow, given all my responsibilities, how could I ever make it to “the banquet”!

The truth is that what keeps us from “the banquet” is fear:

  • fear that we might be associated with Jesus
  • fear to sit at the same table with his motley companions 
  • fear that some loyalty might be demanded of us

and the basis of all fears –

  • that we aren’t good enough, holy enough,
    strong enough to be what Jesus desires.

Oh, Friends, let us not be deterred by fear or any other preoccupation from the invitation of a lifetime! Let us approach the table of God with a humble and open heart. God has the banquet garment ready for us. The celebration is ready. All we have to do is sit down and listen to the Divine Music. The rest will come. We will learn how to dance with God.

Music: Dancing with God – sung by Briege O’Hare, OSC,  based on the writings of Mechthild of Magdeburg, a Beguine and Christian medieval mystic whose book Das fließende Licht der Gottheit (The Flowing Light of Divinity) described her visions of God.

I cannot dance, O Lord, unless you lead me
And if you want me to leap for joy,
Then you must be the first to dance and to sing
And I will follow you; in their echo I will ring.

Then, only then,
Then, only then,
Then, only then, will I leap for joy!

I cannot sing, O Lord, unless you lead me
And if you want me to sing for joy,
Then you must be the first to sing out your song
And I will follow you and sing right along.

Then, only then,
Then, only then,
Then, only then, will I sing for joy!

Lead me Lord in your joyful dancing.
I will follow in your dance of life.
Then all my living will be true to you,
My loving God.

(Repeat Verse 1)
Leap for joy!
Will I leap for joy!