Commentary on Ephesians 6:10-18; Ps 62; Luke 14:1, 7-11
The Gospel reading from Luke reflects attitudes which were the total opposite of the spirit of Francis Garate. We are told that on a sabbath Jesus went to dine with at the house of one of the leading Pharisees. We might notice that Jesus was no social snob. He was ready to communicate with people of all classes; he came to bring his message to everyone without exception.
During the meal, Jesus told a parable arising out of his observation that those invited were jockeying for the best places at the table. He said that when people are invited they should not try to get the place of honour. Another guest may come and be given that place and one will be humiliated by being asked to go to a lower place.
Instead, when invited to a meal, one should go to the lowest place. Then the host may say, ‘Friend, please move to a higher position.’ And then one will gain honour in the presence of the other guests. Of course, it is also possible that one will be left in the lower position!
The point that Jesus is making is that for a true disciple such concerns are totally irrelevant. And indeed in the long run it is the truly humble person who is most respected and not the social climber who is really a pathetic figure.
Francis Garate spent more than 40 years of his Jesuit life as ‘only’ a doorkeeper or receptionist. But over those years people developed a deep respect for his personality, his charity, politeness and total dedication to his job. We might look at the pattern of our own working life. Are we concerned about status and position? Are we only concerned about the money we are earning? Or are we concerned about how we can be most of service to others by the work we do?
The First Reading from the Letter to the Ephesians speaks about the precautions we need to take against the various temptations that we are likely to encounter. We are urged to “put on the armour of God… to stand fast with loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace”.
Faith is to be our shield, we are to take “the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit”, which is the word of God. And, finally, to pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.
Francis was known as a man of deep prayer. It is there that we, too, can find the “armour of God” which will give us the strength to live lives of truth and love.