“Who Are the Blessed?”
In Chapter 14 of Luke’s Gospel, when a bystander comments that “those who will dine in the Kingdom of God are blessed,” Jesus furthers his insight about ‘the blessed’ by sharing the parabolic image of the Great Feast, in which all are invited. Using this parabolic image, Jesus reveals a profoundly simple, yet defining characteristic about these ‘blessed people’ who will later be dining together in the Kingdom…
What is this simple, yet defining characteristic of the blessed?
Well it is definitely not being the smartest, the richest, most articulate or socially connected in the community, that’s for sure… Based on the parable, I believe it is simply their willingness and readiness to be used by God – right here and now – instead of waiting until later… In this reading, the key characteristic of ‘being blessed’ is having a willing and open heart that is centered on loving and building God’s Kingdom, instead of being focused on acquiring money, power, pleasure, success, etc.
This is why Jesus uses the examples of successful business persons needing to examine products and to complete purchases before coming to the Great Feast… This is also why He uses the common example of newlyweds needing to attend to their spouse’s concerns before coming to the Great Feast…
…Both are examples of people with hearts that are so focused on, directed towards and consumed by their natural love(s), that these loves can hinder, enslave or even blind them from hearing, seeing and living out the FULLNESS of God’s call in life: to love God with all one’s heart, soul and mind and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.
In this parable, we see Augustine’s theology personified which talks about and defines sin as a warped natural loved, in which one inordinately loves the gift and not the Giver of gifts.
What are the take away messages from this Gospel?
First, that even naturally good loves like successful businesses, families and marriages can possibly enslave and blind us from deepening our love of God and growing in holiness, if they are not loved correctly, that is, in God and through God. The blessed know this and will guard their hearts choosing wisely what to love & how to love what they do, for they know that the heart is a doorway to the soul.
Second: in acknowledging that sometimes what we love and how we love are opposed to God’s will, we must learn how to let our heart and our loves be openly discussed, critiqued, shared and tried in the fire – of life by others and God. Our heart open to love + time + relationships + grace = a life that is purified, transformed and finally reflects God’s image to the world. The blessed know instinctively that in offering their hearts and selves to the world, they will be broken and run over by many but saved in the end by Christ.
Finally, the last take away message from this parable is that ‘the blessed’ are NOT so because of the eternal reward they will receive in the Kingdom, but because of their willingness and ready hearts to struggle, work and to build God’s Kingdom here and now, each day.