Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Thirty-One (Ordinary Time)
The Responsorial Psalm points us in a right direction: “In you, O Lord, I have found my peace” (Psalm 131).
In Romans 12: 5-16 Paul is developing the theme of equality in the Church. Jesus, in a radical rejection of the protocol and practices we take for granted in most human hierarchies; e.g. business and military, divorced dignity from function. In his Church, he declared, higher authority would not be accompanied by greater prestige. Rather, “the greatest among you will be your servant” (Matthew 23:11; Mark 10: 42-45; Luke 9:48; 22; 25-27; 1Peter 5: 1-3).
In practice the Church has ignored this principle ever since the hierarchy took to themselves prestigious titles and dress, and distanced themselves by distinction from “lower-ranking” members of the clergy. (The word “hierarchy” in itself has nothing to do with “higher” or “lower”; it simply means “government by the keepers of the sacred”). The clergy followed their example and created barriers between themselves and the laity by similar, if smaller, signals of special standing. Paul’s exhortation “to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think” (12:3) sets the theme of today’s reading: “We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.” But this difference should simply lead us to “love one another with mutual affection [and] outdo one another in showing honor.” It is not grounds for distinction in rank or prestige. All are equal with different gifts of service that depend on grace. If we recognize each other as having only one dignity, that of being “in Christ” as equal members of his body, we will be able to say, “In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.”
In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells us what commonly keeps people from accepting his invitation to the “wedding banquet of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). Some just want to enjoy their possessions: “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it.” Others are caught up in their business affairs: “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out.” Others don’t see the need to bring God into their human relationships: “I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.” They all answer politely, “Please accept my regrets.” Other things are more important to them than what God offers. So God accepts their choice: “I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner” — at least not in this life, and not without a radical conversion. But it is a sixty-minute game: God’s mercy may yet bring them to say, “In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.”
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Restore simplicity to status.