Jesus’ and Our Invitation Lists, 31st Monday (II), November 3, 2014

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Monday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Memorial of St. Martin de Porres
November 3, 2014
Phil 2:1-4, Ps 131, Lk 14:12-14

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • On Friday, we began hearing St. Paul’s beautiful letter to the Philippians, which we will have throughout the week. The real climax and center of the letter we’ll hear tomorrow, when St. Paul says “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus.” He calls us to put on Christ’s mind, to adapt ourselves to the Lord, to respond to his grace to think as Christ thinks, to will as Christ wills, to act as Christ acts. That’s his fundamental prayer for the Christians in Philippi and for the Christians in Fall River. That’s the proper context to understand what he says in today’s first reading: “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.” Their unity will come about by their all attuning their minds and hearts to Christ’s. Once that happens then the rest of his prayer will come about: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory,” because Christ did everything out of selflessness and for the Father’s glory. “Rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests but also everyone for those of others.” Christ regarded us as more important than himself, he gave his life to save our lives, he those he was God became our servant so that we might enter into divine life. When we adopt Christ’s attitude, then we, too, will not act out of self-centeredness or for earthly fame but will seek God’s glory, kingdom and will. We will seek to follow Christ’s example of greatness by becoming the servant of all, by washing the feet of others, by giving our lives for their salvation.
  • We see the attitude of Christ in today’s Gospel when he gives invitation advice to those who had been invited to a dinner with him, a dinner in which he cured a man with dropsy to their scandal as we heard on Friday, a dinner in which he spoke about taking the lowest seats (what we would have heard on Saturday if the All Saints Day readings didn’t take precedence). He teaches us not to have dinner parties our of self-interest or for our own vanity or ambition — something that was probably taking place then as the creme de la creme were invited for the dinner with Jesus the famous rabbi — but out of charity, to serve others with love. “When you hold a lunch or a dinner,” Jesus said, “do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, 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.” Jesus’ advice is revolutionary, because most of us naturally invite to dinner those family and friends or people with whom we can do business or guests of honor that can make us feel important. Jesus is telling us to invite the nobodies, the handicapped, the overlooked and marginalized, those who often go without food not to mention don’t get invitations. This is precisely what he does at the Eucharist, inviting not just everybody including those who are challenged in any way, but us, who are often so poor in our relationship with him, crippled in our ability to do his work, lame in our ability to follow him when it gets strenuous, blind in our ability to see him in others or in various circumstances. He invites not just the Blessed Virgin and the guileless St. Bartholomew to dinner, but those who have betrayed him and will betray him, those who cannot possibly ever repay him. And he tells us to do the same.
  • I’ve always been moved by a story of Cardinal Antonio Tagle of Manila in the Philippines. In his previous assignment as Bishop of Cebu, he used to take Jesus’ words literally and regularly invite the poor, the homeless, the drunks and those otherwise in great need to the bishop’s house for lunch and dinner at his table. Journalist John Allen tells a story that one woman called a shelter trying to find her brother, a drunk, and she was told that he was having lunch at the bishop’s residence. She thought it was a lie and a joke, but called the bishop’s residence to prove it. She asked for her brother and her brother came to the phone. Jesus didn’t give us today’s teaching merely as an inspiration. He wants us to take it seriously. When was the last time we invited people over to dinner that we’d normally never invite? When was the last time we invited someone who might not have had a familial meal in months or years? When have we invited the outsiders? Jesus wants us to have the same mind that he has.
  • Today we celebrate a saint who had that Christ-like mind and took Christ’s words seriously. St. Martin de Porres (1579-1639) was a Dominican lay brother in Peru, who because he was the mulatto son of a Spanish knight and a black freed-woman, experienced various sufferings out of racism growing up. He eventually entered the Order of Preachers and served as their barber, surgeon, wardrobe-keeper and infirmarian, but he did far more. He extended the care he would give to all his Dominican brothers to everyone else, as if Lima were his monastery. He cared for the sick. He helped establish an orphanage and foundling-hospital. He distributed the convent’s alms each day of food to the poor and sometimes, with God’s help, multiplied it. He cared for all the slaves brought to Peru from Africa. He trained people in the same care of the poor and dramatically helped the poor in their circumstances. He’s the patron saint of social justice because he was giving not just out of charity, but out of a sense that the poor are owed better than what they normally receive. He did nothing out of selfishness or vainglory. He regarded others as more important than himself. He was of one mind, love, heart and thinking as Christ and the great saints and recognized that the poor he was helping were special gifts of the Master to his heavenly table, and so he did everything he could to get them ready.
  • Today as we come to the altar with all our handicaps, Jesus seeks to nourish us with himself so that having his mind and heart we may make room at this table for all those who are not here who need Jesus just as much as we do, and to make room at our our tables and in our lives, as St. Martin did, for those Jesus loves so much that he gave his life to save.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 phil 2:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also everyone for those of others.

Responsorial Psalm ps 131:1bcde, 2, 3

R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
O LORD, my heart is not proud,
nor are my eyes haughty;
I busy not myself with great things,
nor with things too sublime for me.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted
my soul like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap,
so is my soul within me.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
O Israel, hope in the LORD,
both now and forever.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.

Gospel lk 14:12-14

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees.
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 sisters
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, 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.”