The beginning of this chapter reprises the idea of healing on the Sabbath that was brought up in the previous chapter. The healing of the man with dropsy (vv. 1-6) is similar to that of the crippled woman; and the point that Jesus makes in the process of his healing is the same: the Sabbath doesn’t exclude these ‘works’ of kindness- the New Law of Love that Jesus is ushering in fulfills and transcends the Old Law of Moses.
One image that we use to describe Heaven is the image that is given in the Book of Revelation: Heaven is like a wedding banquet. A meal, prepared by God for His Son, Jesus, and His people. In these next verses, Jesus talks about that wedding banquet, that meal, as he described who the guests are (vv. 7-14), and then a parable about the requirements for getting into the wedding banquet (vv. 15-24). The banquet is a time and place where Jesus will present to the Father those who had believed in His Gospel and accepted his call to repentance and discipleship. Ironically, the passage seems to present the idea that there are some who are ‘automatically’ included in the feast because of their state during their earthly life: the poor, the blind, the lame, the cripple. Are these invited because they have already had their share of suffering and were united to Christ because of it? Is there a sort of hierarchy of those invited, starting with the lowliest and ending with those of privilege, those who put off responding to the Gospel?
Luckily for us, Jesus takes the time to sort of distill the first part of this chapter in 8 verses (vv. 25-33). It is here that Jesus makes clear the call to discipleship and the requirements for entry into the Kingdom of Heaven, a.k.a. The Heavenly Banquet. The one thing that has to be reconciled in all of this is the balance between the rather complex way Jesus presents the Gospel message of Repentance and Discipleship, and the rather easy, black-and-white, straightforward nature of the message itself. Verses like 25-33 stand out for us because they are straightforward, without equivocation.
This then is the crux, I think, of discipleship. The invitation to Discipleship is easy and straightforward. The human person is capable of responding to the invitation and embracing it. Unfortunately, the human condition, mired in the tendency to sin and reject the Promise, is prone to rejecting and ignoring the Call. Luckily, we have the sacrament of Reconciliation and the vast treasury of Mercy that Christ left the Church. And it is this Reconciliation and Mercy that we will take up in Chapter 15.
Point for Prayer
“Jesus, host of the man meals of the Gospel, especially of the Last Supper, you teach us that at these dining experiences, we can learn many of the Gospel values you want us to have. Above all, in the Eucharist, we celebrate your sacrificial presence and table fellowship. May our beliefs, attitudes, and practices reflect our communion with you, both in the Sacrament and in our daily behavior” (136).