Happy Monday in the 31st Week of Ordinary Time!
Call me eccentric (Ok, Paul, you’re eccentric), but I’ve always been one to leave little notes or flowers or gifts on people’s cars. It’s almost like a secret mission! I plot a course to wherever they’re working or living and go at a time I knew they wouldn’t be around. Then I park around the corner, sneak up, and place a little envelope under their windshield wiper, slip a small bouquet in the door handle, or hang a little gift-bag on their side-view mirror, and then quietly slip away, hopefully unnoticed. Often, I don’t even sign my name.
I suppose it’s silly, but for my heart, it’s joyful and uplifting. It’s a strange type of happiness, knowing someone’s day might be made just a little bit brighter because of a small effort from my time and body, and boatload of love from my heart. And when they don’t know it was me, well, that’s the most fun of all! The surprise lets them feel loved with no rhyme nor reason. I know I long for that, and I sure enjoy giving it when I can.
In today’s Gospel (Luke 14:12-14), Jesus is having dinner with one of the “leading Pharisees,” and said to the host, “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.”
We all know Jesus’ instruction to care for the people on the fringes of society. But what are they? “The poor, the Sick, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” (Luke 14:13) What these people are is an important distinction. But -who- are they?
Who are the invisible people in our life? Whom do we pass by daily?
The poor could be our sister, struggling to pay her bills this month. The sick could be our brother, in body or in mind. The crippled or lame might be our mother, needing help with her walker or wheelchair. How about the person with a different skin color or ethnic background. The gay person, longing to be accepted. The person reeling from a brutal separation or divorce. The convict. The adult just recently orphaned after their final parent dies. The person trapped in the recesses of mental illness.
And the list goes on and on.
These are all beautiful souls, worthy of the little notes, flowers, and gifts of our heart. And the sharing of that love only doubles as it floods not just one, but two.
So, who are the people that need to be invited to our table?
Who will be blessed with a little surprise from us today?
thank you for the invitation
to dine at your table.
grant us the grace
to carry that invitation
to those on the fringes.
Help us open the door of our hearts,
especially to that person
most in need of our acceptance and our love. Amen.
Peace, joy, and surprising love to you all today, and forever.
Paul Puccinelli is Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Rita Parish in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center.