…Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He said to the host who invited him, ‘When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous’” (Luke 14:12-14).
Jesus calls us to invite the needy to our banquet table. His message doesn’t discourage us from welcoming friends, family and wealthy neighbors, but asks that we bear in mind our intentions. It’s against human nature to give lavishly without looking for repayment. But Jesus insists that we give without expectations. How do we do that?
Perhaps we can start by practicing generosity toward those with no means of reciprocation. Consider the young lady in prison without loved ones to send money for an occasional luxury such as a soda or bag of chips. The retired nun on a small income, standing in the grocery checkout line. The father of nine, longing to take all of his children to a ballgame, but can’t afford one ticket. The poor beggar with nothing but her clothes and unassuming nature. We may find it’s easier to give without the prospect of receiving, when we give to such persons.
Something wonderful happens to us when we give of ourselves to the least of these. Jesus rewards us by bringing joy to our hearts. We become the needy ones; constantly looking for opportunities to encourage, until giving becomes a beautiful habit. Jesus’ gifts also begin to increase, as we find ourselves offering our support to the poor and affluent alike, with no expectation of receiving. Ultimately, we find ourselves longing to be like Him in love, and sharing that love with everyone.
So, as we enter this beautiful season of giving, let us be generous with all our brothers and sisters and recognize that our repayment comes from God alone. Our most precious reimbursement: His amazing grace.