Friday, August 30, 2013

Without exclusion

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
September 1, 2013

Luke 14:1,7-14

Jesus attends a banquet, invited by "one of the leading Pharisees" of the area. It's a special Sabbath meal, prepared since the night before with great care. As usual, the guests are friends of the host, highly regarded Pharisees, teachers of the law, models of religious life for all people.

Apparently, Jesus doesn't feel comfortable. He misses his friends, the poor. Those people who he meets, begging on the road. Those who are never invited by anyone. Those who count for nothing -- excluded from fellowship, forgotten by the faith, despised by almost everyone. They're the ones who usually sit at his table.

Before leaving, Jesus addresses the one who invited him. It isn't to thank him for the banquet, but to shake his conscience and invite him to live in a less conventional and more humane lifestyle -- "Do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back...Rather, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Once again, Jesus strives to humanize life by shattering, if necessary, the schemes and performance criteria that can make us appear very respectable but, deep down, show our resistance to building the more humane and fraternal world that God wants.

Ordinarily, we live settled in a circle of family, social, political and religious relationships through which we help each other take care of our own interests while leaving out those who can't contribute anything to us. We invite into our lives those who can invite us in turn. That's all.

Slaves of self-interested relationships, we're unaware that our well-being is only sustained by excluding those who need our free solidarity simply to be able to live. We must listen to the gospel cries of Pope Francis on the small island of Lampedusa: "The culture of comfort...makes us insensitive to the cries of other people" "We have fallen into globalized indifference." "We have lost a sense of responsibility."

Those of us who are followers of Jesus must remember that making way for the Kingdom of God isn't building a more religious society or promoting an alternative political system to other possible ones but, first of all, generating and developing more humane relationships that enable decent living conditions for everyone, starting with the last and least.

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