Thirtieth week in Ordinary Time


Saturday 1 November
All Saints
Philippians 1.18-26
Psalm 41.2-3,5
Luke 14.1,7-11

Yearning is a strong theme in today’s readings: yearning for respect, yearning for happiness, yearning for God.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is wonderfully free from the tensions sometimes associated with his missionary churches. He disarmingly declares his happiness and joy in this passage before more disconcertingly meditating at some length on whether it is better to be alive or dead! I am not at all convinced by those wont to use this passage as an incipient theology of suicide. What I think it more clearly illustrates is the psalmist’s prayerful yearning of the soul that thirsts for God.

By contrast the scene in the Gospel is more prosaic and familiar to anyone who has found themselves anxiously glancing at the table layout at a wedding, the reserved places at the conference dinner or the almost literal pecking order of a boardroom AGM. We all crave respect, and to be near centre of the top table with a close view of the action is one of the perks of being important. Although the Lord himself isn’t bothered about such things, we are.

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