31Oct 31 October, 2020. Saturday of Week 30

31 October, 2020. Saturday of Week 30

1st Reading: Philippians 1:18-26

Paul’s chief concern is that  the message of Christ may be spread

What does it matter, except that Christ be proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

Responsorial: from Psalm 42)

R./: My soul is thirsting for the living God

Like the deer that yearns
for running streams,
so my soul is yearning
for you, my God. (R./)

My soul is thirsting for God,
the God of my life;
when can I enter and see
the face of God? (R./)

I would lead the rejoicing crowd
into the house of God,
amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving
the throng wild with joy. (R./)

Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-11

The best seats at the table

One sabbath day Jesus went to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal, and 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.”


Friend, come up higher

The Christians at Philippi were suspicious that some outsiders were  preaching about Christ, but did not take part in their Eucharist or prayer-meetings. (There is a similar episode in the gospel [Lk 9:49-50] where some disciples resented what others were doing.) Paul declares that whenever anyone proclaims Christ, whatever their motives might be, it brings him joy. He condences the entire message to one single word, “Christ,” our risen saviour.. For “it is not ourselves we preach but Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor 4:4-5).

Unlike the evangelists Paul’s writings con’t record the words and deeds of Jesus. His message focussed on the risen Christ, living in the community. The church’s actions and words become acts or statements of the “body of Christ.” Paul was very glad when that message was passed on to others, by simply mentioning the name “Christ.” Under this name all envy and suspicion should be banished from among the faithful.

Jesus warns against the common tendency to use money or status (i.e. pull rank) in order to enjoy privelege, and be seated in the best seats. Knowing how many are drawn to this, he advises us to voluntarily go to the lower place. Then if the host so wishes you will be called forward, ‘My friend, come up higher.’ He seems to say, if you host yourself in high esteem, at least give others a chance to determine your place. Then he names the most controversial virtue of humility. The call to be humble is a challenge to us all, even if glory is promised as its reward.