Balik-Tanaw | A banquet fellowship

Church of the Risen Lord

Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Ps 68:4-5, 6-7, 10-11
Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a
Lk 14:1, 7-14

As with most, if not all, successes in life we celebrate these with a joyful coming together of our families, even with friends, and if allowed by our resources, with the larger community. This usually happens in a banquet or table fellowship of sorts or, as in our present-day language, a party, where food is shared with everyone in a celebrative setting.

Our lectionary passage today in Luke presents to us a similar setting. We are not so sure as to the occasion, but here we read that Jesus was invited to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the Sabbath. This passage gives us a glimpse of three things that we can learn from banquet fellowships from the perspective of our faith.

First is that banquet fellowships are visible expressions of gratitude and faith. While our passage did not indicate the occasion, we can learn from various passages in the Gospels that banquet fellowships are an important occasion where generosity is shared and faith is expressed. We remember various stories of banquet fellowship – from the feeding of the five thousand, to Jesus’ meal with Zacchaeus, to the meal after Jesus’ appearance to two of his followers on the road to Emmaus, and of course the last supper with his disciples, and many more.

While occasions during parties or banquet fellowships call for the honoring of the one who achieved success in life or is celebrating a special event like a graduation, loved ones, special friends or persons of honor are invited to grace the occasion. This is usually done in order to help make the occasion special, such as the presence of relatives, church leaders and even public officials and celebrities. There’s nothing wrong with having guests of honor such as those mentioned, and this somewhat gives us an idea that Jesus must have personally known the leader of the Pharisees who invited him to the meal. However, Jesus points out a problem in banquet fellowships, and that is that it has become an economic tool and an occasion for social discrimination.

This brings us to the second point that Jesus teaches us in this story – invitations to banquet fellowships must be genuine and not something that we use to expect something in return in the future. In Jesus’ time, the people experienced oppressive social and economic norms under the Roman empire. Much like what we can also see in our time today, reciprocity governed much of the social interactions during the Roman rule.

My classmates in high school in the province invited me to join them in going to the next barrio and eat at the house of a friend during their fiesta. There were a lot of us in that house, eating the lechon and the sumptuous meals served. Nabilaokan lang ako ( Caught off guard) when after being introduced to the owner of the house, I was told to prepare to be visited during our own town’s fiesta as it was expected that we will return the favor and eat in our house as well

There’s nothing wrong with returning the favor, but if this is the only reason why people are invited because of the idea of reciprocity, this is wrong. This is basically what is happening in our country where patronage politics rears its ugly head. People do things for others so that they can get something from them in return, perhaps not immediately, but in the future. This is the reason why in our elections, vote-buying is rampant because the politicos know and abuse the value of “utang na loob” or debt of gratitude, which is basically what patronage reciprocity is all about.

Jesus said in verses 12 and following, “When you give a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Here Jesus points out that the very purpose of inviting people is not to be able to get or collect something back, but that we extend such invitation because we have already been blessed and thus share such blessings to others, especially those who are in need. This is the very nature of our faith since time immemorial, when Abraham was called by God and blessed by God to be a blessing to the nations, and ultimately when God gave Jesus Christ out of God’s love for everyone, not because God wants something in return, but that God has so much to give.

In the same way, in all our dealings with life, when we extend our help to others, we do it not because we want something in return, but because we have already received and share such blessings from God to others who are in need.

This brings us to the third and last point: in being invited to a table or banquet fellowship, we must always clothe ourselves in humility. Jesus uses this as a parable in our lives as a people who experience salvation, not out of our own efforts or credentials, but because of the free gift of grace from God. Because we have been made worthy to join the banquet fellowship of God by virtue of our being cleansed by the blood of Jesus, we are to live lives of humility, acknowledging always God’s work of salvation in our lives through Jesus Christ our Lord.

By living a life of humility and gratitude to God, we therefore must always remember those whom our Lord Jesus Christ cared for – the poor, the destitute, those who have nothing and those who long for God’s complete salvation. For we once were like them, in need of God’s salvation.

In our celebration therefore of the various occasions in our lives, whether as individuals or as a family, or as a faith community, we are called to a celebration that recognizes the true reason for the season, the very source of our being and purpose in life, and that is God. Yes, we celebrate our graduation, our birthdays, our anniversaries, our whatever it is that we celebrate – but we must always remember that all these come from God who is the source of all good things. Amen. (

Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing, reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).

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