the dinner party

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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
.”
 
It would be a shame if the reader of this gospel missed the fact that the advice Jesus gives here is an instruction given to a Pharisee, and the reader is presumed to have a good knowledge of the Pharisee’s philosophy and customs. Pharisees belief was comprised of both the written  and oral traditions, they were scholarly,they advanced synagogues, enjoyed a good amount of popular support, and tried to maintain a constant state of purity in accord with the religious custom of the day. Their invitation to Jesus demonstrates their interest in religious scholarship,and it should not be surprising to think that the function of the dinner was a fruitful debate.When Jesus suggested that they invite the poor, crippled, lame,and blind he knew these would be people Pharisees would tend to avoid for reasons of maintaining ritual purity. In the first century these misfortunes were seen as something that the people brought upon themselves. They were viewed as sinners.Jesus also likely knew the sheer joy these isolated people would experience and express should they be included in any type of social function. They were outcasts and might even be considered dead to society. To bring them back into society would indeed bring them back to life and isn’t that what a resurrection is? If one could bring life back to a person in this world, would God not also do the same for them? Pharisee’s did believe in a resurrection, and Jesus used his instruction to illustrate how to be part of that resurrection.Not in an after life, but in this life. To make their resurrection happen the Pharisee needed to give up a bit of themselves, their piety,to bring about that new life. The thought of dying to oneself so that new life can begin is not an uncommon thought throughout the New Testament. This is a just simple example easily practiced, even today.

 

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