Brothers and sisters:
The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.
O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
Psalm 69:30-31, 33-34, 36
But I am lowly and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
For the Lord hears the needy,
and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah;
and his servants shall live there and possess it
He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
When we hear Jesus’ words about throwing a luncheon or banquet for the poor and lame, we realize that times have changed. People hardly throw parties anymore or feel obliged to reciprocate an invitation. Regarding attitudes toward the handicapped today, people are offended if we offer pity. But that is not the essence of Jesus’ comment.
Jesus does not want us to be so comfortable in our circle of friends that we close ourselves off to those who are different and in need of friendship. Even if we can find no one who is financially destitute, the poor and blind, the crippled and lame, can take other forms.
We often avoid people who have lost a loved one, adding to their grief because we don’t know what to say. People recovering from surgery or illness often find themselves alone because their friends don’t want to be imposed upon to help. We might have a co-worker who eats lunch alone or will be alone for the holidays but we never paid attention. We can turn our backs on a friend because we don't really like their spouse. We may learn of a friend’s divorce and abandon them because we can’t socialize with them the same way. Or we avoid someone who is socially awkward because we want to seem more popular.
The only gift we can give to God is a gift of showing mercy to others, and in the scriptures today, we learn that it is so pleasing to God that he will store up a reward for when we pass into the next life. Today, spend a little time considering who you can invite to the banquet of the Lord and make a plan for carrying it out.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you that you are merciful and desire that everyone feel your friendship in this life. Show me how I may show mercy and love to someone who needs it though I get nothing in return. I know you will reward me in the next life but also, you will give me joy in this life. Amen.