Banquets with the poor

When you give a feast,
invite the poor, the crippled,
the  lame, and the blind.
Luke 14:13

Jesus got invited to many banquets by the rich and powerful, but he advised them to invite the poor instead of their family and people who had money.

As I read this passage I thought of my experience yesterday.

I went to the remote village of Montaña Adentro to talk with the people about an upcoming visit of students from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames, Iowa, who will be helping them build their church.

We had a Celebration of Word in the school and afterwards the community council met. Then they took me to lunch in Daniel’s house. Since I hadn’t told them that I don’t eat meat they served me chicken, which I asked them to give to someone else. (I knew that it wouldn’t be wasted.)

As I ate, I talked a little with the women who were there in the kitchen about the meals that would be prepared for the students. I told them to keep them simple, like what they eat – even though I’ll buy some vegetables that are not available there.

I told them not to give us meat at every meal and I asked them how often they have meat, even chicken. “Maybe about once a week,” was their answer.

But they had killed a chicken for me and would kill chickens for visitors. That’s why I specifically told them not to have meat at every meal.

The practice of hospitality and of table fellowship, which is so important to Luke’s portrait of Jesus, is practiced by many of the poor I meet. They share – even to the point of sacrifice – for others.

They are the ones who are living out Paul’s admonition in today’s first reading (Philippians 2:1-4):

Do not seek your own interest,
but rather those of others.

Would that more followers of Christ did the same. We’d have less hungry people and maybe even a more just society.



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