Grace and Peace to you.
When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled,
the lame, and the blind; and you will be blessed,
because they cannot repay you.
—Luke 14. 13-14
Last Sunday was the anniversary of the ratification in 1920 of the 19th Amendment, “granting” women the right to vote. Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, which led to the Civil Rights Act, enabling blacks to vote. In both cases, laws giving disenfranchised people the power to vote came only after much long, hard struggle, against fierce, violent resistance. It seems we don’t mind giving away a little money, but the hardest thing to share is power. The struggle continues. People complain about the poor having an “entitlement mentality,” but no one acts more entitled than rich, white, powerful people.
Christ did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but in self-emptying became a humble servant. Jesus asks us to surrender our entitlement, share our power and use our privilege for the sake of those who do not have it. Surrendering security, superiority and control is the hardest thing to do— but sharing power is powerful. To invite the poor to a banquet, or to choose a lower place at the table, is not simply an act of kindness; it is a radical way of upending social power structures by giving your power away, making someone of lower status equal to yourself. This is what it means to carry the cross, to share power and vulnerability for the sake of the powerless and vulnerable.
The humble, crucified Christ calls us to find our place not at the privileged end of the table, but among the poor. For we are poor indeed, and only when we take that seriously do we really “get” the grace of God. We are called to welcome the dispossessed to our table, to grant to all people a place of privilege, power and belonging. Only there, in equally shared need and power and glory, do we really enjoy the Banquet of God.
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