As Rita has been working on her book, Together in the Word, she noticed that on several days recently the Church focuses us on Luke 14 and stories/parables about Jesus dining in the homes of various people. Jesus often used the occasion of a meal to make strong points about many topics. We picked a few to explore this week.
Gospel Lk 14:1-6
“…he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.” Lk 14:1
Jesus is at a meal on the Sabbath and Luke tells us that: “the people were observing him carefully.” He raises a question about healing on the Lord’s Day, and then proceeds to heal a man suffering from dropsy. For the Pharisees, it raised a question about the Judaic law, which prohibited doing any work on the Sabbath. For me, it raises another question – how is a meal related to healing? In our relationship and in our family, meals are often a time when we instinctively focus on the good things we find in each other. A lot of love goes into the preparation and the enjoyment of the food and savoring its flavor mellows each of us in ways that emphasize our connection with each other. When it is just the two of us, a good meal is often a very pleasant part of our day and we seem to be able to put aside little annoyances and be aware of how much we care for each other. Meals with family and friends produce good memories and often much laughter and sharing of great stories. We often linger at the table, even after the dessert has been served and eaten, because we feel welcomed and loved there.
Gospel Lk 14:15-24
“Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.” Lk 14:15b
This gospel passage is filled with people who have excuses for not responding to the invitation given from God’s generous love. How often do we do the same not just in response to God but in response to the invitation given from love from our spouse? How often do you say to your spouse I’m too busy, I have too much work to do, the kids need me or I need time with my friends or to be alone? Many times the invitation is simple, the other just wants a little time, a little conversation, a little hug or kiss, to be listened to for a few seconds or to tell you how much s/he loves you. Yet it is easy to say no to the requests. We do this without thinking and then are angry when the same behavior is given to us. Think about the impact the little no’s to each other have on your entire relationship. How much do they stack up and eventually become a major blow up. Make the decision today to RSVP with a “yes” to the love extended to each other. The result will be that you will be blessed and enjoy more fully the banquet of the marriage that you share.
As I read this passage, it occurred to me that it is often easy to be physically present, but not really be there. It’s those times when Rita says to me: “Hellooo, is anybody there?” She can tell when I am thinking about something I’m working on, distracted by TV or mentally trying to understand a book or article I have read. I’m just not responsive and sometimes have to ask her to repeat what she just said. She can even tell when we are talking on the phone! It takes effort to be fully present to another person, and I feel close to her when I fully hear Rita as she shares her thoughts and feelings. I also feel very loved and cared for when she is fully present to me.
Gospel Lk 14:1, 7-11
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lk 14:11
Humility is a difficult virtue for many to accept. It is often associated with those who have no spine and don’t take a stand on anything. Paul H. Dunn, author, says of humility “It’s the realization – not with pain, but with joy – that all virtues and abilities are not lodged in yourself; it’s that sudden insight that every soul in this world can be your teacher no matter how low his light burns; it’s that intake of breath when you stand before the ocean and realize how vast nature is.” What a wonderful realization! This is another attribute that would strengthen any marriage. How different marriage would be if husbands and wives could live with the idea that not every good quality lies within them but many do indeed live in their spouse and how much they could learn from each other. Bob has taught me so much about what it means to share my gifts with others. When we taught in Haiti, it was his encouragement that got me to believe that I could teach English. I went and offered what gifts I had and received wonderful rewards. As Mr. Dunn goes on to say “seek humility, the highest virtue of them all—not to be frustrated by our limitations, but to be filled with a new appreciation and an enhanced sense of awe and love for all our blessings.” I so often look at Bob and I am filled with appreciation and awe when I look at the blessing he is in my life. Look to each other today and be filled with the realization that each of you can learn from the other and that you alone don’t need to have all virtues and abilities. It is then that you will realize how blessed you are to have each other.
For me, the basis of humility is to pray every day and to thank God for my birth and continued existence. I try to remember that the gifts and talents I have used to reach successes in my life are not my own, but gifts from my Creator. I also ask for an appreciation of God’s gifts to others, which allows me to see in them even more of His glory. It helps me to find joy in a painting or a piece of music and stand in awe that someone can do these great things that I can’t. Rita tends to be very modest about her talents, but I am often thrilled by them. In Haiti, I sometimes sat in an office next to her classroom and marveled at her ability to teach a subject in which she had no experience and I reveled in her success. I watch how easily she gains the trust of others and try to accept that it is not my gift, even while I observe her, eager to learn what I can.
We hope that you enjoy the coming holidays and find the meals in this season a source of joy in your relationships with your spouse and others who join you.
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