Honor: reflection

weddingfeastredhouseAlan Culpepper [287-88] offers these final thoughts:

These are liberating words that can free us from the necessity of succeeding in our culture’s contests of power and esteem. They free us from over-under relationships and the attitudes and barriers they create, so that we may be free to create human community and enjoy the security of God’s grace. Continue reading

Honor: hosts

weddingfeastredhouse12 Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Just as Jesus’ fellow guests had occupied themselves in normal, honor-seeking pursuits upon arrival at the meal, so Jesus’ host had followed ordinary conventions in putting together his invitation list. Invitations served as “currency in the marketplace of prestige and power” [Green, 552] for those whose framework was the world as we know it. See through the framework of the Kingdom of God, a different currency is the “gold standard.” Continue reading

Honor: guests

weddingfeastredhouseIn 14:1–24 Luke depicts Jesus’ enjoying the hospitality of a leader of the Pharisees following a synagogue service on the Sabbath (14:1). Given, first, the importance of social status as determined by the perception of one’s contemporaries, and, second, the importance of the reciprocity of gift and obligation in ancient society, Jesus’ assertions on right behavior undermine the values and expectations that his meal companions would have taken for granted. The consequences of this right behavior leads to the construction of a new vision of life and community. Continue reading

Honor: humility

weddingfeastredhouseThis word comes into our language from the Middle English, via Anglo-French, from Latin humilis low, humble, from “humus” the word for earth. Webster’s offers this as a definition

  1. not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive
  2. reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission
  3. ranking low in a hierarchy or scale: insignificant, unpretentious –or : not costly or luxurious

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Honor: context

weddingfeastredhouse1 On a sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. … 7 He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, 9 and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. 10 Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” 12 Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Continue reading

Who will be saved?

pentecost-ruahIt is a gathering unlike any other. Isaiah describes it as people coming from all corners of the world – every make and model, color and variety.  Citizens of every nation from east and west, north and south.  All streaming to Jerusalem, to God’s holy mountain bring their offerings of worship. All invited by God, all coming to the Lord God, all of them seeing the glory of God.

Someone in the gospels asks question: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”  I wonder if the questioner’s understanding of salvation – even the offer of salvation – is very different from the prophet Isaiah’s.  Maybe the questioner is worried about the state of the world and can only see a few faithful people.  Maybe he or she is worried about family members gone astray.  Maybe the question is, as most scholars seem to believe, an inquiry whether only a few people “like me” will be saved. Continue reading

Helpless and Hopeful

hopeblock1Monday morning, I was on my way to the retirement home of some Franciscan Sisters to celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption. On the front seat next to me was my cell phone; it made the buzzing sound it does when a text has come in. It was 10:43 am. Something told me to pull over to the side of the street. The text was only three words: “Water in house.”

Friends living in Prairieville, LA, on a canal of the Amite River had been cautiously, hopefully watching the waters levels rise. They had been watching the news from north of Baton Rouge – and upstream of their location. It was horrific news for the people in those areas. But there was hope. My friends had built their new home on higher ground. But the forecast for the flood crest kept being adjusted upward. Continue reading

Aligning love of neighbor

greatest-commandment2“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Mt 22:36-40) Continue reading

Being saved: reflection

narrowdoorAlan Culpepper, at the end of his commentary [277-78], provides an interesting story from Franz Kafka:

His parable “Before the Law” is the story of a man from the country who seeks admission to the Law. When the doorkeeper tells him he may not enter, he looks through the open door, but the doorkeeper warns him that he is just the first of a series of doorkeepers, each one more terrible than the one before. So the man waits for the doorkeeper’s permission to enter. For days and then years, the man talks with the doorkeeper, answers his questions, and attempts to bribe him, but with no success. The doorkeeper takes the man’s bribes, saying he is only doing so in order that the man will not think he has neglected anything. As the man lies dying, he sees a radiance streaming from the gateway to the Law. Thinking of one question he has not asked, he beckons the doorkeeper and asks him why in all those years no one else has come to that gate. The doorkeeper responds: “No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. Now I am going to shut it.”

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Being saved: how many

narrowdoorHow many will be saved? Jesus does not answer directly, but urges his questioner and others (“Strive” is plural) to make sure that they are in the number, however large or small it proves to be (v.24).  The word “strive” is derived from a technical term for competing in the ancient Olympiad pointing to a full-hearted effort. This word is in the present and contrasts to comparison to those who “will attempt to enter” but when the door of opportunity is finally shut it will be too late (v.25). People must strive to enter now. There is inevitably a time-limit on the offer of salvation. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door – The gospel text continues to indicate that the time is short, the kingdom is arriving even now, and thus it is important that a decision be made. Jesus’ parable of the narrow and soon shut door makes it clear that making a decision, and the right one, is crucial. Continue reading