When You Give a Banquet   2 comments

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors–for they will invite you back and in this way you will be paid for what you did.  When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind; and you will be blessed, because they are not able to pay you back.”

I realized years ago that Jesus is addressing me with this parable.  I realized that I expect some sort of repayment when I invite people to my banquet.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a reciprocal banquet.

I just want something.

I became aware that I wasn’t giving others food, time, or attention because God is good.  And I intended to change.

But what I have found?

I. Can. Not. Do. It.

I want, no, I demand, internally, to be repaid for my friendship or my service.

I have re-read this passage probably several dozen times in the past twenty years.  And every single time it is as relevant as before.  It is so deeply ingrained in me that I cannot blame my upbringing nor the teaching I have received over the years or People Who Were Mean to Me or anything else.

As my then four-year-old son told me when asked why he was doing something I didn’t want him to be doing, “It’s just sin, Mommy. It’s just sin!”

In his case, we gave him coffee flavored ice cream for dessert.  This led indirectly to his attempting to fit himself under our bedside table at midnight, thus waking me up, and causing me to feel aggravation.

In my case?  I have no other explanation.

I have been given, given, given to by God, pressed down and overflowing.  There has not been a day in my life that I have gone hungry.  I’ve had a home and someone to share it with me.  When I was at the lowest points, God always brought me what I needed, eventually.  He kept me alive through deep despair and depression.  He gives me ice cream, and kittens.

This ought to be enough!

Enough to satisfy the crouching beast within me who always wants more.

The old man (or in this case woman) who demands from others, the unforgiving servant, the old heart is not going out without a brutal fight.

Posted September 28, 2016 by swanatbagend in character

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2 responses to “When You Give a Banquet

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  1. Interesting… that “feed the poor” is supposed to be part of every Hindu religious ceremony also… as well as the injunction to do so without expectation of returns. In fact, there is the further Zen-like attitude that one should not do anything with the expectation of results, but simply do it because it should be done. Dharma. Zen. Duty. Mindfulness. Be Here Now.

    I think there is a distinction between these things and the interaction one has with the people with whom one has repeated contact. The research on The Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Tit-for-Tat strategy – if you are not familiar with them – may be of interest to you. Basically, however, the idea is that we behave differently if we have the expectation of a repeated interaction.

    I think that the more of a relationship we have, the more reciprocity we need. And as you note, it really is a visceral Need.

    We may do our duty by the family member or friend who does not reciprocate – they will be invited to parties/events, get an obligatory card or whatnot, we will offer them aid in their hour of need. But the fellow-feeling is not there, because we know that although they may be able to rely upon us, we cannot rely upon them. To me, it is not sin (which would be to cause harm, allow harm, or not help when I could), but evolution (because there is a limit to my resources, and an unreliable friend is a black hole for those).

    (Thoughts I feel safe sharing with you, Jenny, because we have always been able to rely upon you and yours and have tried our poor best to be reliable friends to you as well.)

    • Thank you so much for your beautifully worded thoughts..and your kind friendship, as well. I do know what you mean about an unreliable friend being a black hole. I am still working through what that connection would look like. There would be wisdom to be applied to the question of what one could/should do for that person.

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