In the first reading today from Romans 11, St. Paul says, “For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.” That may sound a bit odd. Does God purposefully want us to disobey Him, just so that He can show us His mercy? No! This verse speaks to our free will. We don’t HAVE to be disobedient. But God certainly gives us that option. The decision is ours, 24/7/365 (366 in leap years). We do need to know that, when we are disobedient, His mercy is just a prayer of repentance away!
In the Gospel reading today from Luke 14, Jesus goes to the home of a Pharisee for dinner. His advises his host not invite friends and people of high standing when he throws a dinner. Why? Because they will be able to repay him. Tit for tat; quid pro quo. No, Jesus advises him to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind – all people who would not be able to repay him. He ends with, “For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Are we to take these words literally? Perhaps. You decide that for yourself. But here is a take on that: Jesus isn’t necessarily just talking about having a lunch or dinner. He’s talking about how we conduct our lives, how we “distribute our favors.” Unlike a corrupt political system where people give money and favors in order to receive something in return, we should do these things out of love and kindness, with no expectation of repayment. This is why we give to charities. Not because we expect anything in return, but because we want to please and serve God. Trust me, the repayment will be more than all the gold in Ft. Knox.
Father, help us to have giving hearts. Give us a spirit of generosity, that our gifts may be pleasing to you. Amen.