The parables at the great supper are addressed to the Pharisees in the presence the poor gathered around. Jesus pulls back the veil on their religious hypocrisy and manipulations.

In the parables, the Pharisees only appear implicitly in the lost sheep and the lost coin parables. They are the shepherds who have written off the one lost sheep as a business deduction and would not have gone in search of that little lamb. The Pharisees appear more explicitly in the incident of the lost son for they are dobviously the older brother, whom Jesus does not condemn, but whom he leaves up in the parabolic air left to wonder how the story ends, as Jesus has made them so carefully a part of the story.

Does the Pharisees remain contemptuous of the poor gathering around at the great supper in the Pharisees house or do the get the message and enter more fully into the great banquet of life with the poor, the tax collectors, and the prostitutes. We don’t hear their answer.

This is because Luke is such a careful and precise writer. The story has survived the test of time precisely because the story remains relevant today. There’s a certain kind of liturgically correct Catholic who has completely missed the covenant connection \between the ritual that builds community way beyond their little (if existent at all) imagination.i I hear that the Church must shrink to get down to only the “real” faithful, and then we can build again. This scenario suggests that a lot of people are not worth saving.

The community of Jesus is egalitarian. This still shocks the righteous today. It is more important for them to have correct liturgy than to care for the poor. The general Catholic silence screams out on issue like gun control, the border, just wagers, the international refugee crisis, white supremacy (which I don’t believe an American bishop has ever addressed as a mortal sin), and other issues.

The vesy table setting of these three parables is absolutely egalitarian, which offends the Pharisees. At the real and final wedding feast of heaven, they would possibly convince themselves not to go in, but that the Father goes out to cajole them to the banquet, such is the breath and scope of the mercy of God.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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