Whose Banquet is it, Anyway?
Commentary on Luke 14: 1, 7-14 by Shanell T. Smith, PhD
Short Reflections on Justice and Beauty by Jay McDaniel
New Testament Scholar:
What is Justice, Anyway?
From the ministry of Jesus, and not from his alone, we discover a mystery at the heart of the universe - God - who seeks justice.
But what is justice? From the perspective of process theology justice is a combination of respect for community rights, respect for the earth, and care for vulnerable. It is what Martin Luther King Jr. called beloved community, with ecology and care for animals added.
For my part, I find that poets are better at describing it than philosophers. Here is how the poet Robin Morgan describes it:
Bread. A clean sky. Active peace. A woman's voice singing somewhere. The army disbanded. The harvest abundant. The wound healed. The child wanted. The prisoner freed. The body's integrity honored. The lover returned....Labor equal, fair and valued. No hand raised in gesture but greeting. Secure interiors - of heart, home, and land -- so firm as to make secure borders irrelevant. *
It seems to me that, if we take Robin Morgan's image to heart, justice is like a banquet in which everyone is included. Those who might otherwise be treated as "privileged and powerful" are at the same level as those who might otherwise be treated as "marginal and powerless," but because the marginalized have suffered in a special way, they get served first. I like the image, and I get it from a much better storyteller.
-- Jay McDaniel
Luke 14: 1, 7-14
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable. ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place”, and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher”; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’
He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’
Whose Banquet is it, Anyway?