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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Aug. 29, 2010

By Jeff Hensley

Aug. 29, Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle C Readings:

1) Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29

Psalm 68:4-7, 10-11

2) Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a

Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14

I have a friend who is the kind of person we'd all like to be: a stalwart support for his family, one who loves the poor and is willing to sacrifice to serve them. He knows that doing the right thing may cost him in the eyes of others -- but he does the right thing anyway.

When I think of someone who doesn't seek the highest spot of honor at a banquet, but must be invited higher at the table, I think of him. Yet, he has earned a high position in his chosen field, working for the church. He's been recognized widely for his contributions both to his profession and on behalf of the poor. But the best stories -- of his kindness to the homeless and the personal risks he has taken in helping prisoners -- remain mostly private, caught in passing conversations with those who know him well.

Despite his accomplishments, he always seems to have time for friends, time for church and time to offer a kind word to someone who needs it.

In this weekend's reading from Sirach, we are instructed to humble ourselves, to not think too highly of our own opinions but to listen attentively to the wise. We also are told that giving to the poor atones for sins.

The refrain of the responsorial psalm is, "God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor." God's blessing of the needy, his care of orphans and his defense of widows is exalted. We see that if we are going to follow God, we must care for the poor as well.

In the Gospel reading from Luke, we find Jesus instructing his disciples to seek the lower place at table, so that they may be invited to sit in a place of higher honor. Further, he tells them to give a lunch or dinner for those who cannot repay them, "the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind." In this way, he tells us, we "will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

At the heavenly banquet, I'm reasonably confident my friend will be sitting near the host. As for myself, I'm just hoping God's grace allows me to make it to the table.


Do you know people who make sacrifices so they can serve the poor? Could God be calling you to some small (or large) service of those in need?


"When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind" (Luke 14:13).


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