29 Oct, Saturday of Week 30
Rom 11:1ff Israel’s rejection of Jesus has meant riches for the gentiles. Yet, God’s gifts and his call toward Israel are irrevocable.
Lk 14:1ff- Take the lowest place at a wedding party. The one who humbles himself shall be exalted.
Listen to the Heart
As we see in today’s Scripture, it is so easy to be distracted from Jesus, not so much by wilful sins but to those lesser sins that plague good people. Often enough it seems easier to convert a great sinner from grave offenses than to convince a good person to repent of small transgressions.
Unlike the evangelists, Paul’s gospel does not record the words and deeds of Jesus. Rather his gospel is about the risen Jesus, alive now within the community. Every action and word among the believers becomes an action or statement of the “body of Christ.” What joy filled the heart of Paul and what holiness was transmitted to others, by simply mentioning the name “Christ.” With this name he felt he could sweep aside all envy and envy among the faithful.
In Romans Christ is now the treasure and the vocation of the gentiles. This unusual turn of events brings Paul to think of his own people, the Israelites, who as a group refused to recognize Jesus as Lord and Messiah, though many of them did become disciples. Yet, as Paul sees it, as a nation, they were overcome by blindness. Rather than discuss the baffling “mystery” of Judaism’s destiny, our meditation here can focus on Paul’s word, “blindness.” How much anger and impatience would be spared, how much kindness and gentleness manifested, if we would stop judging people’s motives. Even if we are in the right, our approach to others would be so much more in accord with Scripture if we would only attribute good intentions and divine grace to those who differ with us. “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” Also, the divergent viewpoint in our neighbour may enable us to see our own position of faith all the more clearly. “Blindness has come on part of Israel until the full number of Gentiles enter in. Paul adds, “Then Israel will be saved,” but only when we ourselves are fully dedicated to the gospel which is the person of Christ. What hinders conversion is not our ignorance of truth but our lack of joy and enthusiasm “in Christ.”
Too many good people want to be known and recognized for their goodness, too many of us pull rank and “sit in the place of honour.” In today’s parable Jesus is kind enough to adapt himself to this common weakness of saintly people. “Sit in the lowest place… so that the host will say, ‘My friend, come up higher,’ then you will win esteem.” It seems that Jesus is saying: if you must win esteem, at least go about it in a proper, civilized way. The gospel ends with the most difficult commandment of all, humility. The commandment to be humble is the stumbling block of believers and even they have to see an exaltation offered as a reward.
First Reading: Romans 11:1-2, 11-12, 25-29
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?
So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.” “And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-11
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”