Stop Fighting for Position And Self-Esteem!

Weekly Missionary Reflection
22nd Sunday in Ordinary time, 28 August 2022

Sir. 3:17-18,20,28-29; Ps. 68:4-5ac,6-7ab,10-11; Heb. 12:18-19,22-24a; Luk. 14:1,7-14

Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. They thought they would be able to get His mistake to blame (v. 1), but it was Jesus who criticized their praxis of “eating together”. Those religious leaders were taught the very basic ethic: eating and drinking together. Jesus’ message is implied: Before talking about heaven, let’s learn how to become a human first!

“Honour and shame” mentality prevailed in the society of Jesus’ time. Honour is determined by social recognition, not by personal achievement. Pride is more important than personal achievement. Honor is public recognition. Thus, performance and display are important. The banquet is the venue of pride performance. Two things need to be concerned: guest list and seat arrangement. The invited ones are at least of the same level and can share and promote one’s position and another.  Seat positions display the level of honor in society. The very important person normally will arrive later: the more important, the later he will arrive, the most important will arrive the latest. Exactly at these two points, Jesus offered a new option. Therefore, He counseled both the guests and the host!

First, is the seat at a banquet. The guests are trying to get the most honored seat (v. 7). According to Jesus, such a choice is at risk. Because one’s seat can be easily moved by a more honored person who comes later. Self-claim for position and self-esteem is uncertain, as the host should be the person who decides it. One can be embarrassed if he is asked to move to a lower place in front of many guests. Therefore Jesus says: choose the lowest place! Who knows you will be promoted to a higher place. Your self-esteem will be raised in front of the public. This is a revolutionary proposal: the lower place then becomes something to fight for and a priority. In other words, stop competing to hoard honor from humans! Stop displaying self-esteem on the stage of the world. Why? Because the honor of Jesus’ followers is not given by humans and the world, yet it is from God Himself (v.11). Jesus offers a new perspective about us, His church: a humble church fighting for serving, instead of busy for honor and pride.

Second, who should be invited? Jesus offers an option: stop inviting those who can invite you back (v. 12). Change your guest list. Do not just invite those of the same level who are able to repay you in this world. Thus, the boundaries that we make about “our neighbors” have to be reviewed. Those whom we considered “outsiders”, now should become “our people”. Those who are uncounted should be regarded as invitees, as friends and partners to share in the banquet. This main message of Jesus is challenging: take out the shields and boundaries, so we can embrace each other. Change the order, so that all members of the church are equal. There you will find eternal happiness (v. 14): When love means only giving, without expecting repayment. That is the identity of “the righteous” who will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous (v. 14).

(Hortensius Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy, and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit animating Jesus, also be my guidance and strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the Church, in particular, I present my prayer for our Pope and apostle prayer of the Indonesian Church this month:

For the purpose of Universal Churches: Small and medium-scale of business
We pray for the small and medium scale of businesses. In the midst of economic and social crises, may they find a way to continue their business and serve the community.

For the purpose of Indonesian Churches intention: Trusted means for distribution of donation
We pray for the community groups to be able to create a trusted means to distribute the virtue and donation from the good-hearted
people to the needs.

Amen

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