Jesus is the definitive proof that God lifts up the lowly and repays those who reaches out to them. Our Teacher calls us to the same lowliness and outreach.
Jesus is a guest of one of the leading Pharisees. In other words, he is not among the lowly folks.
Rather, Jesus is among citizens who are outstanding for their knowledge and strict keeping of the law. So, they have people’s respect and see themselves as the righteous judges of others. Little wonder, then, that they watch him carefully, though this surely puts in doubt his host’s sincerity.
Jesus, on the other hand, is guileless. After all, he leads the lowly people that makes up the remnant of Israel, who speak no lies (Zeph 3, 12-13). So, he speaks the truth, not caring about their status, as though living up now to the Pharisees’ later flattery (Lk 20, 21). But really, social standing or nationality does not matter to him, nor to his Father (Acts 10, 34-35). So, then, he tells his fellow guests that being lowly makes sense.
And Jesus does not spare his host the hurt that the truth brings. He says to him that it is better that he invites and opts for those who cannot repay him. Doing so, the host can, then, look forward to the repayment at the resurrection of the righteous.
Jesus, the lowliest among the lowly, welcomes the lowly and wants us to be like him.
Jesus embodies his own teaching about being humble. For our sake, he becomes poor and a curse (2 Cor 8, 9; Gal 3, 13). Moreover, he becomes as sin, so that he may become our righteousness (2 Cor 5, 21). And even more telling is that, to save us, he humbles himself, becoming obedient even to death on the cross (Phil 2, 6-11). And because of this God greatly exalts him. No, there is no denying that the lowly find favor with God.
And so, the lowly finds favor, too, with Jesus. Again, like his Father, the Son approves more the lowly who is in awe of his words than the greatness that we can show off (Is 66, 1-2).
Needless to say, following Jesus means being like him and doing what he does. For one thing, then, true Christians humbly take others as more important than themselves (Phil 2, 3). For another, they associate with the lowly (Rom 12, 16). And, basically, disciples are humble because they stand on the truth that they are nothing if not for God (see SV.EN XI:313). And they associate with the lowly, because they are truthful. They acknowledge that they live and eat due to the sweat and hard work of the lowly (SV.EN XI:190-191).
And so their sharing in the Eucharist, which commits them to the poor (CCC 1397), is truly a pledge of the assembly of the firstborn in heaven.
Lord Jesus, make us “learn, by your grace and example, to be truly” lowly “of heart” (SV.XII:173).
1 September 2019
22nd Sunday in O.T. (C)
Sir 3, 17-18. 20. 28-29; Heb 12, 18-19. 22-24a; Lk 14, 1. 7-14