“[W]hen 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” (Lk 14:13-14).
The words of Jesus today give us a key to loving unconditionally. We are to resist the temptation of doing for the primary reason of receiving thanks or praise. We are to reach out to those in need, because they are in need. We embrace our dignity as human beings when we recognize the inherent dignity of another and serve them without hesitation, without holding anything back.
This is the root of what we mean when we say that we are believers in the God of Jesus Christ. This God is a divine community of persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father gives all that he is to the Son perfectly, infinitely, holding nothing back. The Son receives all that he has been given perfectly, infinitely and returns, in like fashion, what he has received to the Father. The infinite Love shared between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit.
Through the Son of God becoming incarnate, becoming one with us in our humanity and returning to the Father at his Ascension, we now participate in that same divine love given and received between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We do not give of our time, our talent, and our treasure, because we will be given in return – more time, more talent, more treasure. We give, we love, because we have already been loved into existence by a loving God. We receive his love and love in return because that is who we have been created to be.
The very fact that we exist, that we have life, is a gift. Jesus teaches us that to be human, we are to be able to look into the eye of every person we meet and see in them our brother and sister. With each smile, each embrace, each listening ear, each act of invitation to walk with another, and each action of providing for the needs of another, we reaffirm to each other that we exist, that we have dignity. This is true because each and everyone of us have been created in the image and likeness of God, who is Love.
Photo: Jesus on the grounds of Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center