What would it be like to dine with Jesus today? Surely the highlight of your life! Fortunately, the messianic banquet is God’s desire for us in eternal life, but we are yet to share it.
So, let’s ask again: what would it be like to dine with Jesus today? Be careful what you wish for! In today’s Gospel, a Pharisee invites Jesus to dine with him. Jesus immediately disregards the obligatory ritual cleansing. We do not know if the host said anything, but he was ‘surprised’. Jesus then embarks on a diatribe against the Pharisees. What a dinner guest! (Actually, his attack becomes even more vitriolic, but you miss this in the Gospel of tomorrow’s Mass because it coincidentally is the feast of St Luke himself with a different Lukan text!)
Of course, everything in a Gospel has a theological purpose. It is not really about Jesus as a rude guest, or about the Pharisees for that matter. Luke loves a banquet setting, is especially concerned with the poor and the proper direction of our possessions to those in need. Jesus accuses his host and fellow diners of extortion and directs them to give alms of the poor. Before we dine with Jesus, we need to read his accusations as an examination of our own lives, not those of the Pharisees. How much is our religious response merely a matter of external observance? Do we act justly in relation to the poor? Our responses might affect our participation in that eternal banquet!
John McGrath is a parishioner of St Brigid’s Marrickville.