For VIPs Only

August 28, 2016
The Gospel Today
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 14:1, 7-14

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor.
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place.
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Then 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 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.”

REFLECTION (Sem. Philip Faustino S. Volante)

“For VIP”, “SPECIAL GUESTS only”, “RESERVED FOR”… These are words we usually see in conferences, exclusive parties and, unfortunately even in churches especially if there is a big gathering that we celebrate like a fiesta. But our Gospel for today invites us to look at each and everyone as a VIP, a special guest and a person given reserved seats especially those who cannot repay us, the poor and the sick.

I remember one incident in our parish, it was an Easter Sunday and we have reserved seats for the members of one certain parish organization who joined and helped out in organizing the Holy Week celebration. The parish church was filled with people and the only vacant space were those reserved for that group. I saw an old woman already sitting on the pew so I asked some of the parish usherettes to assist her to another chair so that the members can sit. When the usherette went to the old woman and asked her to transfer, she blurted out, “Ano ba yan! Binibili na pala mga upuan dito!” (What’s this nonsense! Chairs were already sold!) I felt guilty afterwards because I realized that instead of forming, I might be dividing a community instead just because of giving priority to a few people and excluding the others. This may have an impact to the Church as exclusive and as a Church only for the privileged and the rich.

Jesus Christ was right when he said, “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…” not because of the reward waiting for us in heaven, but because when we look at the perspective of those who need the presence of God the most, the poor and the sick are the ones who need Jesus Christ more. I am not saying that the privileged and the rich do not need Jesus Christ in their life, but we must also allow others to experience the love and comfort of God through our own efforts and actions. All of us are VIPs and Special Guests of Jesus Christ in his heavenly banquet, not just the rich and privileged, but also the poor and the sick.

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