Fifteenth Sunday of Pentecost (Year C)
September 1, 2013
“The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.”
-Luke 14:12-14 (The Message)
I was never one of the popular kids.
Oh, I had friends in high school. But I wasn’t the guy that went to all the parties. I tended to keep to myself.
High school is one of those places where there really is a clear demarcation: popular folks here, jocks over there, the smart ones all around you. Then there were those , like me, who really didn’t fit in any of those groups.
The gospel text for this Sunday has me thinking about high school cliques and tables. Jesus tells two stories that revolve around the meal table. The first one tells people to not take the seat of highest honor, but instead take the lowest seat as possible. The second one tells people to invite the poor, the unpopular, the kind of folk that will be able to pay you back.
Jesus tells these stories as both a commentary on first century society and also as an introduction into the kingdom of God. In God’s eyes, what matters is not wealth or pride, but humility and compassion. The system of hierarchy has been overthrown. Equality rules.
As I read this text, two things came to mind. The first is that I am writing this on August 27, 2013. Tomorrow, August 28 is the fifthtieth anniversary of the March on Washington. The most important part of that day was the speech by Rev. Martin Luther King that is now called the “I Have a Dream” speech. The speech talks about the system of racial heirarchy found in the American South. King calls for its destruction, to be replaced with a new system of equality, or as King says:
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.