It Is Not Where You Sit That Matters

September 1, 2019

Whenever I reflect on this Gospel, I reflect on the where-do-we-seat-the-priest dilemma.  Often times I do not go to wedding receptions.  They can become very awkward not just for me, but also for those seated at the table with me.  Mostly I am either found at the family table, with the parents of the groom or bride who I might or might not know.  That table tends to be very formal in conversation and small talk revolves around how gorgeous everything was.  Most people at those tables must greet guests and so they are quick to leave and walk around during dinner.  Many times the last one there is me sitting alone or with no one next to me.  Other times I am seated at a table where someone didn’t bring a date or there was an odd number.  At this table many scramble to not have an empty seat next to them.  It seems that no one wants to entertain the priest.  Maybe they feel I’ll ask questions from the Baltimore Catechism or when was the last time they went to church.  Sometimes at these tables I hear of what is wrong with the Church or how they feel guilty for not going to church anymore.  My presence at the table tends to make others uncomfortable.  Where we sit does matter.  I understand this.  When I order tickets for a game, play or concert, I want the best seats in the house.  I want to see, hear and experience the event.

But what the Lord is inviting us to do in the Gospel is to leave behind our seats and take a stand.  He invites us to take a stand on the issues of faith and tells us how we treat one another will be repaid at the resurrection, as it states in the last line of the Gospel.  It is about treating others with kindness even when they cannot repay you.   It is easy to sit, but when do we take a stand?  Where do we stand on the issues of gun control?  How is that integrated into our faith commitment to treat others with dignity?  Where do we stand on the immigration situation and human trafficking?  How is this integrated into our pro-life stance?   Jesus is inviting us to be with the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.  He is inviting us to take them to the feasts and celebrations of our lives.  The faces of these can be found in the faces of how we define the crippled and lame, the blind and the poor.  Our standard definitions might not be as inclusive as God challenges us to be.  Taking a stand for the blind might not have to do with our eyes, but for those blinded by insensitivity to others, those blinded by prejudice.   When we take a stand, our stance is to be about Gospel values.

Our country is crying out for a voice that can bring integrity and trust back and the Gospel can be that voice.  Now is the time to take a stand.  Take a stand to be forgiving.  Take a stand to be merciful.  Take a stand to be compassionate.  Take a stand to be understanding.

Reverend  John J. Ouper