Sometimes, I reflect on my assumptions about things. What is it that I believe I deserve? When I don’t get what I want, how do I respond?
I have started to have a consistent argument with my son about our television. He calls it “my TV” when he wants to watch something else. Yesterday, Lydia and I started asking him – “did you buy the TV?”. Of course he said yes (he is 2 years old), then we had a good laugh together.
On top of that, think of the advertising that floods us everyday. You will hear phrases like “you deserve this”, or “protect your investment”. So much is built upon building the assumption that, by simply being born in this prosperous hour of our nation’s history, you are entitled to certain luxuries and benefits.
The older generation will tend to pin this attitude on the younger generation, but these attitudes are not simple imagined, but passed down and cultivated. We are all guilty of these attitudes and assumptions.
The truth is, we all want what we want, and the attitudes of entitlement and power are planted deep within our hearts. The scriptures in this week’s readings address these deep seeded attitudes. God’s view of the world stands in opposition to the attitudes of power we tend to take.
If these readings hit you the wrong way, don’t get upset. Pay attention. Usually resistance is a good indicator that something important is breaking through.
Join us this week as we reflect upon the attitudes of our heart.
Luke 14:1, 7-14
One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.
When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,
and do not claim a place among his great men;
it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”
than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.
What you have seen with your eyes
Hear the word of the Lord, you descendants of Jacob,
all you clans of Israel.
This is what the Lord says:
“What fault did your ancestors find in me,
that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves.
They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord,
who brought us up out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness,
through a land of deserts and ravines,
a land of drought and utter darkness,
a land where no one travels and no one lives?’
I brought you into a fertile land
to eat its fruit and rich produce.
But you came and defiled my land
and made my inheritance detestable.
The priests did not ask,
‘Where is the Lord?’
Those who deal with the law did not know me;
the leaders rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
following worthless idols.
“Therefore I bring charges against you again,”
declares the Lord.
“And I will bring charges against your children’s children.
Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
send to Kedar and observe closely;
see if there has ever been anything like this:
Has a nation ever changed its gods?
(Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their glorious God
for worthless idols.
Be appalled at this, you heavens,
and shudder with great horror,”
declares the Lord.
“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
Praise the Lord.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
who find great delight in his commands.
Their children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.
The wicked will see and be vexed,
they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.