The inhospitality of a Pharisee
October 17, 2017
28th Week in
Gospel: Luke 11:37-41
As Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to have a meal with him. So he went and sat at table. The Pharisee then wondered why Jesus did not first wash his hands before dinner. But the Lord said to him, “So then, you Pharisees, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and evil. Fools! He who made the outside, also made the inside. But according to you, by the mere giving of alms everything is made clean.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
People attach so much significance to dining. Owen Meredith wrote: “We may live without poetry, music and art; we may live without conscience, and live without heart; we may live without friends; we may live without books; but civilized man cannot live without cooks.”
A meal is supposed to be a happy event. How unfortunate that Jesus should partake of one as a sad experience! The Pharisee who had invited him to a meal watched him closely and criticized him bitterly, making a big issue out of ceremonial details like the washing of hands before eating. This ritual, by the way, had nothing to do with physical hygiene since the water used was as inadequate for cleansing as the content of an eggshell.
Perhaps the Pharisee himself was no longer concerned about the meaning behind this ritual but was just being the meticulous Pharisee that he was. Be that as it may, it was unfair that he treated Jesus that way. The inhospitality of the Pharisee was too glaring, viewed from the perspective of the love commandment that Jesus was trying to establish.
In how many homes is this scenario duplicated? Where charity is not observed at table children will learn to associate meals with conflicts. The power of association cannot be underestimated. When I was a child, I knew my mother would never punish me when we had visitors in the house. It was thus that I learned to associate the presence of visitors with peace, amnesty and even impunity. If a similar association is attached to a meal, each family member will come running home at each mealtime.
A fast food chain is cashing in on the concept of a happy meal because everyone wants to be happy at mealtime. While everyone expects to get the lion’s share at table nobody would like to dine with a roaring lion. Perhaps God has designed meals to be so in order to provide families with venue to express concretely their love for one another. – (Atty.) Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
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