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 Jesus offers 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 social media outlets. With each opportunity, we can choose to demean, degrade, dehumanize, gossip, or defame or we can embrace 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. When we acknowledge this reality we can begin to heal and be more understanding toward others. Yet, as Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, writes, “If you’re a stranger to your own wound, then you’re going to be tempted to despise the wounded.”
Jesus provides a mirror for us to notice our own suffering and path to healing. When we are willing to have eyes to see our own wounds and are open to healing, we will better be able to be present for our brothers and sisters. When others act in any way that is less than kind, we can choose to be patient. When someone is short with us, we can resist the defensive response and instead ask if there is any way we can help. When someone is talking over us, we can take some deep breaths and listen. Today the votes will be cast, it may take some days to count the vote. No matter the result, we need to be willing to be a conduit love, willing the good of each other and a healing presence in our interactions with one another. Jesus invites us to the feast of community, are we willing to attend?