Some might say I sound like a broken record because of my continual insistence on the reality that “it’s all about love” but here it comes again because of Paul’s message this morning to the Philippians (2:1-4). Listen carefully to his words:
Brothers and sisters, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing…
If we interiorize that message, it is easier to swallow the not-so-comfortable urging of Jesus in this morning’s gospel where he tells one of the leading Pharisees (at whose house he is dining, no less!) not to invite his relatives and friends when he gives a dinner, who will probably invite him back in repayment. No, he says, “rather, when you hold banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” Why? Precisely because of their inability to repay. Invitations to those people would necessarily spring from the heart, manifesting the qualities of spirit of which Paul speaks. It’s much more difficult to engage our unfortunate “neighbors” than to write a check to a food pantry. Both are good deeds but the former calls for a stretching, perhaps out of our comfort zone, to where we might experience a widening of our heart that is inaccessible to us until we take up that challenge. So there it is; it’s all about love.