We come to the wedding banquet of heaven by way of humility and charity. This is the fatherly instruction we hear in today’s First Reading, and the message of today’s Gospel.
Jesus is not talking simply about good table manners. He is revealing the way of the kingdom, in which the one who would be greatest would be the servant of all (see Luke 22:24-27).
This is the way, too, that the Father has shown us down through the ages — filling the hungry, sending the rich away empty, lifting up the lowly, pulling down the proud (see Luke 1:52-53).
We again call to mind the Exodus in today’s Psalm — how in his goodness the Lord led the Israelites from imprisonment to prosperity, rained down bread from heaven, made them his inheritance, becoming a “Father of orphans.”
We now too have gained a share of his inheritance. We are to live humbly, knowing we are are not worthy to receive from his table (see Luke 6:7; 15:21). We are to give alms, remembering we were ransomed from sin by the price of His blood (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
The Lord promises that if we are humble we will be exalted and find favor with God; that if we are kind to those who can never repay us, we will atone for sins, and find blessing in the resurrection of the righteous.
We anticipate the fulfillment of those promises in every Eucharist, today’s Epistle tells us. In the Mass, we enter the festal gathering of the angels and the firstborn children of God, the liturgy of the heavenly Jerusalem in which Jesus is the high priest, the King who calls us to come up higher (see Proverbs 25:6-7).
Scott Hahn is founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, stpaulcenter.com.
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