05Nov 05 November. Monday, Week 31

1st Reading: Philippians (2:1-4)

Seek to live a loving, unselfish life

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.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 130)

Resp.: In you, Lord, I have found my peace

O Lord, my heart is not proud
nor haughty my eyes.
I have not gone after things too great
nor marvels beyond me. (R./)

Truly I have set my soul
in silence and peace.
A weaned child on its mother’s breast,
even so is my soul. (R./)

O Israel, hope in the Lord
both now and for ever. (R./)

Gospel: Luke (14:12-14)

[While sitting at table] Jesus said 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.”


The quality of mercy

How tempting to live strictly by the Quid pro Quo principle, paying our lawful debts, interacting only with our social circle and once in a while giving something to charity. Globalist neo-conservatism likes to assert that people get just what they deserve. In the zero-sum game of the gig-economy there are winners and losers, determined by purely market forces. The growth of this narcissistic value-system is coolly described by Will Storr in his 2018 book Selfie: How the West became self-obsessed. (Macmillan 2018).

Jesus seems to ask more than that from his true friends. God gives us more than we deserve, so we must do the same for others: go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, be loving because God is loving. This call to go beyond the call of duty finds vivid expression in today’s Gospel. Through his parables, Jesus invites us to an infinite hospitality in our lifestyle. In other words, 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).

For 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 oneself 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 are planning a party, why not invite some 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. Saying that this will be repaid in the resurrection of the just, Jesus 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 of course also gives joy for doing a worthwhile thing.

Sharing our table

Jesus talks to a wealthy Pharisee who had invited him to supperl. That he was invited to the meal was itself unusual, since Pharisees tended to eat only with each other. Then this unusual guest challenges the Pharisee to invite to his house people he would not normally consider, people from outside his usual circle. In contrast to his host, Jesus regularly dined with all sorts of people, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, with the religious and those considered sinners, with men and with women. This broad range of table companions was a symbol of his whole ministry. He did not exclude anyone from his outreach. He wanted to reveal the Lord’s grace to everyone, especially to those who would have considered themselves outside of God’s reach.

By his whole way, life, and especially in his mealtime companions, Jesus showed the hospitality of God — the God of universal welcome. In contrast, the God the Pharisees believed in was one who excluded rather than included people from his company. The gospel requires us to reveal something of the hospitality of God by our way of life. We can all be tempted to exclude others, even whole groups of people. It is very easy to live purely within a social-media bubble, meeting only the narrow circle of people whose outlook, attitudes and social class we share. Today’s gospel invites us to widen our circle so that it reveals more and more of the expansive heart of God, as revealed in the life of Jesus.


(Saint Martin de Porres)

Martin de Porres Velazquez (1579-1639), was a brother of the Dominican Order He was noted for work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children’s hospital. Many miracles are attributed to him, including instantaneous cures, and an ability to communicate with animals. He was beatified in 1837 and canonized in 1962. He is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and workers for racial harmony.

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