Supper in the house of Simon the Pharisee, Moretto da Brescia, painted 1550-54
The gospel below refers to another occasion when Jesus dined in the house of a Pharisee.
Gospel (Lk 14: 1, 7-14) New American Bible, the version used in the Philippines.
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.
He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor.
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place.
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Then he said to the host who invited him,
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
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.”
I had a friend in Manila named Baloloy who died last year, probably in his 50s. He was born with Trisomy 21 (Down's Syndrome) and had a lovely, cheerful disposition. Baloloy lived near the Little Sisters of Jesus in Manila. They live among the poor, have adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament at the center of their lives. A typical community has three or four Sisters, one or two of whom take manual jobs such as working in factories or sweat-shops or doing laundry.
Baloloy considered himself a member of the Sisters' community and often invited himself for lunch. One day he arrived after lunch had started and found his usual place occupied by someone else - Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, a great friend of the Sisters and a friend of Baloloy. The Cardinal and the Sisters have been involved with Faith and Light for many years and that was the connection with Baloloy. The VIPs in this movement are persons such as Baloloy.
Baloloy was quick-thinking. He went over to the Cardinal and told him that his - the Cardinal's - driver was outside and wished to speak to him. Cardinal Rosales went out and when he returned there was Baloloy sitting in his place!
The Cardinal and the Sisters enjoyed this immensely and simply drew up another chair.
At one level Baloloy could be numbered among those with an 'inability to repay' but Cardinal Rosales and the Sisters didn't have to wait till 'the resurrection of the righteous' to know that they were truly blessed by God.
Cardinal Rosales with Tess Ortega at a Faith and Light pilgrimage to Sto Tomas, Batangas, Philippines