Jesus urges men to be hospitable to those who suffer and promises a great reward. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Fraternity so he can generously work to build brotherhood among Catholic men and by seeking the Fruit of Generosity from the Holy Spirit so he can selflessly serve the suffering and expect to receive nothing.

Liturgy

31st Week in Ordinary time – Monday – Lk 14:12-14

Commentary

At a Sabbath feast, Jesus miraculously heals a man with dropsy (severe swelling) and humiliates the hypocritical Pharisees who opposed His charitable act; Jesus knows the Pharisees have invited Him to find a justifiable reason to kill Him. Despite their murderous intentions, Jesus confronts the Pharisees for their practice of pridefully vying for honor at feasts by scrambling to get the seats of highest honor, nearest to the host; instead, Jesus commands them to do the opposite and humbly take the seats of least honor.

In ancient Israel, hospitality was a requirement of the Torah and was a highly valued social norm among Jews; hospitality was a critical way to ensure the poor were cared for and helped build social cohesion. While hospitality was an important act of charity, rich and powerful Pharisees perverted the call to hospitality by only inviting rich friends to be guests when hosting a feast, with the understanding that guests would then reciprocate by inviting the host to a future feast. 

Witnessing the Pharisees’ jockeying for honor and knowing of their perversion of hospitality, Jesus, with a shocking rebuke to the host which violated the good manners of a guest, directs the Pharisee host to stop inviting his family and friends to his banquets and to start returning hospitality to its charitable purpose. Jesus commands that men should pursue justice by inviting the poor to dine, particularly those with disabilities (maimed, blind, lame), who were often stigmatized as unworthy and shunned. Rather than settle for the short-term benefit of getting invited to other banquets, Jesus tells the man to aspire to gain the astounding reward of the resurrection for those who are just.    

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be moved in heart as Jesus reveals His perfect Justice and Charity: the perfection of Charity, Jesus exhorts men to imitate His many Corporal Works of Mercy, including feeding of the poor; the perfection of Justice, Jesus Encourages men to practice generous Liberality (a part of Justice by which men freely give of their gifts from God) with a mindset of Sacrifice (a part of Justice) which expects no earthly reward; Jesus confirms Vindication (a part of Justice by which men are rewarded or punished for their thoughts and acts), promising men that if they are generous, they will be considered “just” and each will be rewarded at his personal Judgment at the resurrection.

Be generous to build Catholic brotherhood

Realize: Like the Pharisees, some men embrace the motto “quid pro quo” (Latin meaning, “something for something”), cleverly giving and doing favors for others to get some future benefit in return; these are simply transactions, not the acts of selfless brotherhood. 

Believe: Reflect upon Catholic Fraternity (CCC 3, 1878, 1939).

Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Fraternity, help me build the Virtue of Fraternity (a part of Justice) so I am generous to my Catholic brothers and I build deep fraternal bonds with many Catholic men, strengthening each other, like “iron sharpens iron” (Prov 27:17).

Serve the suffering and expect nothing

Realize: While some men only selfishly give when they can get something in return, Jesus urges men to give unconditionally to those in desperate need and to seek nothing in return; Jesus reveals that a man’s unconditional works of charity will be “repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Believe: Reflect upon Works and Judgment (CCC 679, 1021, 1039).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Fruit of Generosity so I am filled with compassion and empathy for those in need, and I respond with unconditional generosity to reduce the suffering of the poor, disabled, and dying.