Some of you may be uncomfortable that I’m about to use an example from contemporary politics as part of today’s thoughts for Lent, but it seems to me wholly appropriate in the context of what Jesus was doing in the part of Luke’s gospel we look at today. I also want to make it clear that I am aware that the sources quoted have their own political bias too…they simply make the point that will be on the minds of many in our countries at this time.
[14:1] One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.  There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body.  Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?”  But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.
 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?”  And they had nothing to say.
 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, he told them this parable:  “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, 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 honoured 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 neighbours; 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.”
Luke 14:1 (NIV)
A couple of days ago the prime minister of the UK decided to make a personal jibe about the way the leader of the opposition was dressed, rather than give a sensible, reasoned reply to a question he asked.
“The prime minister said his mother would advise the Labour leader to “put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem”.
He was hitting back at a jibe from a Labour MP about his mother.
The Labour leader took a few moments to respond as Tory MPs barracked him, before offering some “motherly advice” about standing up for a free NHS.
“My late mother would have said, ‘stand up for the principle of a health service free at the point of use for everybody’, because that’s what she dedicated her life to, as did many of her generation,” he said.
A tweet then went out from Mr Corbyn’s official account that quoted Albert Einstein.
“‘If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes & shoddy furniture let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas & shoddy philosophies’ Einstein #pmqs,” “
Source: BBC News
Many commentators believe that in that exchange the prime minister let his mask slip, and revealed the contempt he really feels for anyone not of his class and opinions.
“Here was Dave unscripted: the Dave that Dave would rather you didn’t see. This wasn’t about his mother, it was about him. His values; the Dave of pomp, circumstance and entitlement.
All that hard work he had done over the past 10 years of hugging hoodies and pretending to care about the little people had been tossed aside in one careless stage whisper. This was the real Dave, the Dave reserved for close friends and family. The Dave who actually does believe that people who don’t dress as smartly as him and don’t sing the national anthem are letting themselves and their country down. That children should be seen and not heard.
No matter there may be many voters who agree with him, this was the Dave he had always tried to keep under wraps. The Dave that pined for a world where people brushed their hair, polished their shoes and only spoke when they were spoken to.
A world of respect for the officer class. A world where consultants wore bow-ties. James Robertson Justice: now there was a quack you could trust; he’d have sorted out those moaning junior doctors in next to no time. A make-believe world of John Lewis Christmas advertising.”
Source: The Guardian
I can’t help but make connections.
Using the law to oppress people, contempt instead of care for the poor and sick, the dangers of self-serving pursuit of privilege, which favours friends and family over others, and our attitude to those who differ from us are all apparent in both Luke’s account and the news articles.
Jesus view of such behaviour is also patently apparent…