One of those at table with Jesus said to him, “Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.” He replied to him, “A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many. When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, ‘Come, everything is now ready'” (Lk 14:15-17)
In the midst of increasing violence, polarization, shouting over one another, delegitimizing, and dehumanizing one another, some react by sinking into cynicism, indifference, apathy, or worse, despair and hopelessness, while others dig in deeper and strike back with harsh words, rhetoric, or more violence. These reactions were present in Jesus’ time as well, yet he leads us to an alternative response to deal with division and hatred.
Judaism was far from unified. The Sadducees, Pharisees and scribes, Samaritans, Zealots, and Essenes all felt they were the authentic expression of Israel. Jesus not only addressed this division by sitting down to break bread with as diverse a population as possible, but he also shared parables around the same idea of the invitation to share in the celebration of a feast, as we read today.
Each encounter that we are blessed to partake in is an invitation to experience communion. We have the opportunity to interact in person, face to face, or through the myriad of other technological means of social media. Through each opportunity, we can demean, degrade, delegitimize, gossip, or defame or we can accept the invitation of encounter by embracing the opportunity to treat each other with dignity, respect, kindness, and understanding, yes, even when we disagree.
We all have wounds, each of us have suffered or are suffering, and we have or are experiencing pain in some form or fashion. We all seek to belong, to be a part of, and to be accepted. We need each other. Each day we have a choice to make. We can further perpetuate the condition of original sin, choosing our self over God and one another, or we can engage in being a healing agent of reconciliation, friendship, and communion.
Jesus helps us to notice the suffering of our brothers and sisters, to be aware of their trials and tribulations. When others act toward us in any way that is less than kind, grant us patience. If someone is short with us, let us resist the defensive response and instead ask if there is any way we can help. If someone is talking over us, grant us the mindfulness to take a deep breath and listen. Ultimately, please help us to be a vehicle for the love of God in our interactions with one another.