“CHRIST EXALTS WITH MEAT FOR THEE”
Saint Luke 14. 1-11
17th Sunday after Trinity: 12 October Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
Since you don’t own an ox or an ass, and since you don’t observe man-made restrictions on how you do things on Saturday (the Old Testament Sabbath) or Sunday, the day of The Resurrection…Christs question about pulling victims out of pits may seem distant.
The reason the Pharisees objected to Christ healing the palsied man on the Sabbath was that they didn’t believe Jesus was The Christ. They not only didn’t trust Jesus and all the signs, the fulfillment of Hebrew Scriptures’ prophecies, but they were also overcome with sinful hatred, envy, and self-centered pride. They in fact rejected God and instead enshrined the false god of self-obedience, works, and slavish misinterpretation of Moses. He who worships Moses and rules goes to hell. He who receives Jesus’ mercy and healing…be it an ox, an ass, or an ass like one of us—palsied, depressed, fearful, lonely, and feeling empty too much of the time, receives the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus came to help the palsied, that is, all who are broken and diseased. He came for those with dropsy and those with Ebola. He came for the sick of Haiti and the border areas between Texas and Mexico. He came for those dying from HIV in San Francisco (or Lenexa) and from starvation in Calcutta. You are not condemned for refusing to travel as a doctor, nurse, or Peace Corps volunteer to West Africa (you all have vocations where the Lord has placed you) but you are confronted by the Law when you fail to love your neighbor (including those from West Africa) as yourself! Your neighbor is the ugly, smelly, diseased, different, and strange.
Where do your excess resources go? Do you spend only on yourself and your immediate family or do you share your bounty with the saints? Where does your friendliness and charitable interaction go? Are you only caring and loving with those “just like you,” those who measure up to your own little ego-checklist, or do you icon Jesus to those Who He would sit with and talk to? Or are you always just this damn arrogant and full of yourself? “Well are you…Pastor…?” Yes I am. I repent. Yes you are—Repent!
The parable of Christs accurately describes not pagans versus believers but “old Adam” sinners—one and all…everyone!
How would you react if at the wedding of your best friend or sibling, someone who barely knew the couple strode right up to their head table at the reception and sat down in the seat meant for the best-man? “Who is THIS fool” you would mutter to yourself. If you were invited to an upscale banquet for President Matt Harrison at the Hyatt Regency would you march up to his table and sit down next to him, displacing his wives position?
In point of fact, you do this all the time; we all do. We think only of ourselves and walk right by the wounded man in the ditch. We are the Pharisee. We are the Sadducee. We are Adam and Eve thinking only of our wants and desires. The reason so few repent is that so many don’t think they’re all that bad.
And no, you don’t earn salvation and heaven by striving mightily to be modest and lowly. A feigned lack of arrogance and a check-list showing your feats of humility is as bad as your constant back-patting and pontificating.
Only Christ pays for your sins. Only Christ’s true humility—all the way to the tree—through suffering and much blood—atones for our cock-crowing and popinjay swagger.
But you have not gate-crashed. You are not an uninvited guest—you belong. Jesus has bidden you to a wedding—His wedding. You are honored royalty, best man, maid of honor, and indeed BRIDE of Christ. While you first sit in a low room of simple + water, and then in a low room of humble word on paper, you are bidden this day “friend go up higher.” For your Groom is God, the God/Man your Redeemer. He has bought you out from slavery and prostitution to Satan and has made you a pure spotless virginal and most beloved Bride of Righteousness. He has done this by His own obedience, humility, suffering and death. He has done this by willingly taking the lowest room—the lowest seat. He took the seat of three decades of veiling His Godhood. He took the lowest room of being convicted for crimes of which He was innocent and of being tortured and crucified for crimes which He did not commit—which you did—which sadly, you do! He took a low room in the ground and in Hades so that you would be exalted in a Washing + of regeneration, in the dynamite of absolving + forgiveness and now this Feast Day, in the Wedding Banquet of peace and immortality.
Being “in Christ, in Jesus” doesn’t mean your earthly problems cease and things become story-book perfect as happens only in fairy tales and television sitcoms. Being at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with Christ as your server, meal, and spouse, is a supernal peace that passes understanding. “Worship in the presence” is to receive Him Who is truly present. Be exalted—
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost