Over the years I’m sure we all played the familiar game, who are the three people you would like to invite to dinner and why. The guests may have included Mother Theresa, Mickey Mantle, Joe Namath, Hitler, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Mary, my mother and father, St. Paul, etc. Of course, it was a given… Jesus was always listed among the three and while the proposed dinner guests invariably changed depending on where we were at given points in our lives, Jesus was a constant.
However, after reading Luke these many weeks I might rethink inviting Jesus to dinner. Really, he always tends to make a scene or create a disturbance. We could find ourselves possibly siding with the Pharisees as they raised their eyebrows at Jesus and his disheveled group of “party goers” who tended to eat and drink to excess. And remember the woman who in the middle of having a “meltdown,” crashes an important dinner party and cries all over Jesus feet? What about Jesus taking poor Martha to task for complaining about her sister who instead of helping with the dinner, is hanging around with all the men in the dining room. And now here in Luke 14:1,7-14 he is not only telling us who to invite to our party, but where they should sit when they do arrive. Frankly, Jesus can be a risky guest.
Although it can be confusing and at times disturbing, there is a consistent theme in Luke’s gospels. He warns us about becoming too comfortable with protocol for protocol sake. Self-imposed cultural niceties fast become devices to exclude “others” who are different from us. Of course it’s easier for us to associate with those who are just like us and reinforce our comfort zone. But perhaps we should ask why do they make us uncomfortable? Do we see in them, something about ourselves, if circumstances were a little different? Or is it that we believe that associating with the “disenfranchised” cannot help us socially, economically, or emotionally…but what about spiritually?