Jesus talked about places of honor at wedding banquet. Usually places of honor are at the front, near the host, near the groom and the bride. However, in the Catholic Church the word is, “Come early and get a good back seat.” The back is always crowded while the front is left empty.
At school some children choose to sit in the back so that the teacher will not call on them. I remember one teacher who always stood in the back and taught from the back. She did not call out our names from A to Z but from Z to A. Such behavior goes against conventional expectations. That’s what Jesus did. He went against conventional expectations. Which made a lot of people angry. Because we like order, especially in our circle of friends. We all have our circle of friends. They are usually people that we trust. We can laugh with them, drink with them, tell jokes. We can relax with our circle of friends. That’s the reason that groups, societies, clubs are popular. However, we would never think of inviting people off the street into our home! With all the measures that we take to protect ourselves by using monitors, alarm systems, cameras—the farthest thought from our mind is to fill our home with strangers. Yet, Jesus invites us to go beyond just the people we do not know. He said, “Invite the poor, the crippled, the blind…”. First question we might ask is, “Who’s going to take care of them?” Uncomfortably we know the answer. The one who gives the party is supposed to take care of the invited guests. The host is expected to provide for the needs of those who are invited—in this case—a home full of people who cannot take care of themselves.
The host is not going to have a good time! Unless the one giving the party foresees the challenge and makes certain that there will be plenty of people to help. Is not helping others the goal of being a Christian? Are we not compelled to be like Christ who was willing to help those most in need? Jesus mentioned the physically disabled folks perhaps as symbolic of those who have spiritual ailments. Our society suffers more from psychological disorders than ever before. Even children are confused about who they are, little wonder when they are left without parents because both are working. Children question their sexual identity because they have a cell phone and are exposed to unimaginable atrocities. Irresponsible use of the web is influencing the emotional well-being of many, especially children. We can become mentally crippled.
We certainly do not need predictions from Fatima or anywhere else to tell us that we are heading in the wrong direction. The systems which we have created are about greed. Money is how we categorize people. We speak about how much someone is worth according to the financial wealth they have acquired. Unheard of that someone would say, “That person is worth the Blood of Jesus Christ.” That is the actual sum of our worth. The challenge is that Our Lord does not discriminate. To God we are all worth the same; because He died for everyone, even the ones who do not know Him. Jesus came to save all of humanity. Therefore, equality starts now. The sooner that we get in shape the more prepared we will be for heaven. Jesus does not ask us to just help the poor, but to invite them to the banquet—our inner space. No doubt that lots of people stopped listening to Jesus when He challenged them to break down the walls of prejudice. Famous saints not only invited the poor, but they became poor. Some lived with lepers. Others protested the injustice against workers. Consider that in our abundance we can easily forget about the ones who suffer daily. As followers of Jesus Christ, we cannot forget.
The Eucharistic Banquet is a preview of heaven. Jesus is the host who invites us to share in His love.