Worthy of Our Gratitude

Luke 14:12-14
Phil. 2:1-4 / Psa 131:1-3

…when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.
(Luke 14:13)

All blessings in life we receive
No other way we can repay
But to the needy we must give,
As God’s Word has shown us today.

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, our Lord is not necessarily telling us to give a party to the poor, although it is a small investment indeed to entertain the destitute, the blind and the crippled, as we can expect a payback of eternal banquets in the kingdom of God. Jesus is simply teaching us to be more generous to those who have less in life, and learn how to be humble by being one with the poor and the weak. My wife and I have found celebrating our birthdays more meaningful by asking our invited guests to donate cash (in lieu of gifts) to our favorite charity, like our Archdiocesan Nourishment Center (ANC) that daily feeds malnourished children.

When our eldest son was in gradeschool, he asked me one day, “Pop, why are some people rich and some people poor if we were all created equal?” It was a serious question from an innocent child that made me pause to ponder my answer. I told him that being created equal means we are all loved by God in the same way, just as I love all my children equally. But at the same time, all of us are also created differently, because all of God’s creation are meant to be unique, possessing individual traits and characteristics, perform different functions, and live in diverse environments. Our differences are defined by our cultures, values, abilities and social and economic conditions. Some end up becoming rich, while most others remain poor. Then I added that perhaps God allows so much poverty and suffering to exist in this world so that those who have more in life will learn to share their resources with those who have less, so that all men may learn the true meaning of love.

The question is, how do we repay God for all the blessings that we have received in our life? Jesus provided the answer when He said, “The poor will always be with you” (Mt. 26:11). They are in our midst to give us the opportunity to express our gratitude to God. I suppose for this reason we should also be grateful to them.

Those of us who have never known what it is like to be needy and underprivileged have much to learn from our poorer brothers and sisters. They can teach us much about genuine gratitude, which has become an “endangered species” among our richer friends and relatives. We can also learn from them how to value many things in life that we often take for granted.

Thank you, Jesus for teaching us that an act of charity to one poor neighbor is more rewarding than inviting a hundred rich friends and relatives. Amen.

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