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…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.”
Someone once told me, “Make friends with people who are better than you.” I guess the reason was so that I could get further ahead in the world. I actually know quite a few people who think like this; who introduce themselves to me hoping to get something out of our new found relationship. And they do: I make sure they get the faith!
But in today’s Gospel the Lord seems to be telling us just the opposite. He begs us to make friends with those who are disfigured in relation to us and in their relationship with God. He does not want the blind leading the blind. He does not want two people falling into the same pit! He wants those who have received much to give much and without compensation – without reward.
Of course we can read this passage as being a literal invitation to help heal those who are physically challenged. He wants us to bring peace and justice to those who are without. But the Lord works at both ends of the spectrum: he heals and forgives; he cures and commands; he lends and demands. He wants us to not only think of others has being physically challenged but also spiritually broken.
The Poor. Who are they - that beg for love or for understanding? Are they my roommates or classmates or business partners or dear friends that are looking for love and find only companionship? Are they those who live together but without any vows or promises? Are they the ones who have children but no husband? Are they the ones who have sold their soul or destroyed their womb to get a job or further ahead? Who among us live without love?
The Crippled. Who are they – that beg for forgiveness? That continue to live every single day crippled by their past sins or failures. Who are they that should be walking tall but rather are slumped over due to the weight of their past transgressions? Who among us is crippled - that seeks one good friend to help and guide and lead them to Christ? Who among us lives without hope?
The Lame. Who are our friends and neighbors that bought into the failed philosophies of carpe diem, nihilism, positivism, atheism, agnosticism, feminism, narcissism? Who thinks among us that we have political “saviors” or “anointed ones”? Who really believes that dogmas and belief is only reserved for the religious and not for those who believe in rational thinking?
The Blind. Who among us are gripped in darkness? Who cannot take a step forward? Who are constantly stifled by despair or depression? Who are they – that see their past as their future? Who among us must see to believe rather than believe to see? Who among us lives without faith?
Lord, may we never forget the Gospel message you preached and lived. May we never forget the command you gave to your Apostles. May we see as you see, walk as you walk, talk as you talk and live as you live. May we never forget that the entire Gospel message can be summarized in the following words: “I love you.” We ask this through your love, Jesus Christ. Amen.