Sunday the Twenty-second

“On a sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully (παρατηρούμενοι, parateroumenoi) [Luke 14:1].” “He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing (ἐπέχων, epechon) how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. [Luke 14:7].”
     There is much watching happening in “the home of one of the leading Pharisees.” People were observing Jesus carefully and Jesus was noticing how people “were choosing the places of honor at the table.” One might say that “those who had been invited,” in the way they were observing Jesus, paid no attention to they way they were looking for the places of honor. How they chose their places caused Jesus to speak a parable.
     One might argue that the manner of the guests observing Jesus blinded them to their own actions. Among the varied meanings that παρατερέω conveys in English, “lurking” and “spying” are worthy of consideration in this episode. “Those who had been invited” were lurking, lying-in-wait for the moment to pounce on Jesus for any action that they judged improper. With such attention devoted to an intense spying whose only intent is to accentuate the perceived wrong, the guests were oblivious to their own improper behavior.
     Jesus’ wisdom commands that when we harness the powers of observation looking only to point out a perceived wrong, an honest examination of the reflection in a mirror just might dissipate the negative energy. When we gaze honestly at the image in the mirror, the perceived faults of another pale in comparison to what each of us knows as our own shortcomings. Instead of “lying-in-wait” to let another know her or his shortcomings, a word of grateful encouragement to the other transforms the evil of divisiveness into the grace of unity.

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