Back to the table.
A little different to when we reflected upon Jesus being in the tax collector’s house.
This time, it is as we say, with the big wigs, the chief Pharisee!
It is a meal.
Our Gospel today omits the inevitable, a visitor wishing to be cured. Some things are the same … “they watched him closely.” Another translation says, “They had him under close scrutiny.” It is tough to be under scrutiny all the time. There are enough cameras in Australia; but it is much worse in many countries today.
Dinners are important and it is only four months to Christmas Day. Many are planning that dinner already. The effort to gather all; the scattered, the self-isolated, the ones with a grudge, let alone those who will come, is enormous but essential.
The table is important, even in our TV dinner age, perhaps more important than ever.
We often hear of fundraisers arranged around a dinner table with a price tag similar to “how they picked the place of honour”. One has to be seen next to the “chief”. But why?
Jesus, in noticing all this, yet again proclaims the “divine reversal”. The Kingdom is not the sole prerogative of the leading people. It also includes the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Our task is to identify that group in our society and do something about it. Thankfully, we have established many organisations and institutions to provide a room and a place at the table. Not all are perfect, but for many, the care is adequate, certainly better than what was offered in the time of Jesus. The recent move to provide night shelter during the winter in the city and country is welcome. This is evidence of good will in tackling a recent need, the homeless crisis.
Perhaps the two questions for our generation are …
One … the loneliness in our institutions
Two … as alluded to above, the Christmas table; at home and in worship.
Can we find ways to bring comfort and joy to the lonely, and to find ways to fill the empty chair at both tables this Christmas?