Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost | Luke 14:1,7-14
“Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind,” he said.
Watching the people around him while they watched him, Jesus noticed the not so modern trend of people befriending those from whom they expected to get something—social speculative investment, if you will.
In response, Jesus urged them to invite a new class of dinner guests—those from whom nothing was expected. No return invitation. No ride on the social escalator. No benefit to the host. Invite those who cannot repay you, he said. Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
We want to understand it theologically. Spiritually. Theoretically. Metaphorically. Anything but literally.
Most of the time we improve our understanding by thinking of scripture in terms of metaphor. This may be an exception.
Here a metaphorical understanding, a spiritual interpretation, would free us from having to do anything. We could tell ourselves that our friends were already poor, lame, crippled, and blind, at least spiritually, and most of us would not be wrong. Of course, our own friends could do the same, and they would not be wrong, so we have little room for self aggrandizing. And nothing would change.
Try hearing the admonition as a literal instruction. Invite the poor to dinner. Share your meal, your food, your living, with the lame and the crippled. Put your best china out for the blind. Two things change—our circle of acquaintances, and the circumstances of the people who need change the most. Poor people get fed, clothed. The crippled, physical and mental, get help, maybe some medical attention. The blind see a better life.
As for a spiritual interpretation, most of us may find that in the eyes of God, we ourselves are the “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Try reading the third chapter of Revelation and the letter to the undistinguished folk in Laodicea, in what is modern day Turkey.
It is a humbling thing to see oneself with the eyes of those who are not as blind as we.
Still, take heart. There is a word of grace here for all of us, no matter how humbling it may be. Once we know ourselves for what we are, we might warrant an invitation to the feast.