Ps 69:(14c) 30-31,33-34,36
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees.
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 sisters
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.”
Good News Reflection:
Today’s Gospel passage raises the question: What are my expectations when I do good? In other words: What are my motivations for doing what’s right? Oftentimes, we do good deeds — yes even the Lord’s work — more for what we can gain from it than for the sake of others. And oftentimes, this is unconscious.
To grow in holiness, we need to continually ask ourselves: How other-centered are my decisions and actions? How self-serving are they?
Usually, the clue that we’re doing it for others more is our willingness to do it when it’s a sacrifice. Our world today has moved far from the ethos of self-sacrifice, and we Christians have frequently moved with it.
There’s nothing wrong with serving our own needs, nor with receiving good fruits from our good deeds. As Jesus says elsewhere, what we measure out is what gets measured back to us. We get blessed from blessing others. But if we do anything simply for the sake of receiving something back, our motive is unholy.
In today’s example, Jesus isn’t implying that we should not invite our friends to a dinner party unless they’re incapable of returning the favor. That interpretation would be too literal and misses the point. The real message is that whatever we do, we should do it for the sake of love: We should do good to others solely for the sake of the benefit it will give to them. Whatever we receive back in return is a bonus.
Jesus is preaching the Golden Rule again (first mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount): Do to others would you would like them to do to you — but not so that they will do the same for you. Do it because God’s love is coming into the world through you.
How upset do you get when others treat you unkindly after you’ve been nice to them? The more unfair or unequal the give-and-take, the angrier we become and the more hurt we feel. If we work hard in our jobs and the boss gives a promotion to a lazy coworker, how quickly we complain about the injustice! If a priest disappoints us after we’ve been generous to the parish with our time or money, how quickly we reduce our donations!
By becoming conscious of our motives for doing good and our reactions to unequal give-and-take, we free ourselves from the enslavement of selfishness.
“You will receive your reward in the resurrection of the righteous.” The fruit of this promise begins the moment that we decide to be like the resurrected one, Jesus, in our service to others. The reward for here and now is the grace that God gives us, which enables us to do whatever he asks, unselfishly, sacrificially, and generously.
My Lord Jesus:I ask You to heal me and free me from those attachments and disordered relationships that affect my freedom and my ability to open myself to Your love. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica