05 November . Monday of Week Thirty One
Ph 2:1ff. Setting aside rivalry or conceit, all should be generous to others.
Lk 14:12ff. Inviting the poor to your table will be rewarded.
The Quality of Mercy
In general, people live by the Quid pro Quo principle, of looking after our friends and paying our lawful debts, and once in a while giving something to charity. We like to think that people should get what they deserve. But Jesus seems to require a bit more than that from his true friends. Because God gives us more than we deserve, we should be prepared to do the same for others: go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, be generous because God is generous. This call to go beyond the call of duty finds vivid expression in today’s Gospel. Through his parable style, Jesus invites us to an extraordinary level of hospitality in our lives. It is another way of saying the God’s goodness to us needs to overflow in our dealings with others: “Blessed are they who show mercy, for mercy shall be theirs” (Mt 5:7).
In his letter to the Philippians Paul translates that general ideal of mercy into specifics. We need to seek unanimity, unity of spirit and ideals, avoid rivalry or conceit, think humbly of self and sincerely care for the interests of others. By such means we do not take away other people’s dignity; they remain our brothers and sisters, members of our one large family. Paul then makes it very personal: By this compassion and pity, I beg you make my joy complete. How well he combines the balancing ideals of obligation and spontaneity in Christian life. In one and the same text he refers to that “which you owe me” and that which “I beg you” to do.
The gospel illustrates what showing mercy can mean: When you have a reception, invite people who are ill, lonely or marginalised. If our memory is good, we will recall times when God invited us in our own beggarly and sinful state to a banquet of joy, forgiveness and new life. When Jesus assures us of being repaid in the resurrection of the just, he suggests that we do acts of mercy not just (or primarily) to win praise from others, but rather for the reward promised by God – which includes joy for doing a worthwhile thing for its own sake.
First Reading: Philippians 2:1-4
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
Gospel: Luke 14:12-14
He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”