HAVING CROSSED THE JORDAN, Jesus traveled north through Perea. He seems to have spent some time in Bethany, the most notable of the Perean towns, and He tarried for a while in the Jordan Valley near Salim, where John the Baptist had baptized. He preached as He journeyed; and the sick were brought to Him, and He healed them. The people remarked, with regard to these miracles, that John himself had performed no miraculous works, but that what he had told them of Jesus was indeed true. And many who saw and heard Jesus believed
One Sabbath day when Jesus was a dinner guest in the house of a Pharisee leader, there happened to be a man present who was afflicted with dropsy, an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the tissues, with resultant swellings. Jesus observed the man’s plight, and knowing the lawyers and Pharisees were watching to catch Him in some breach of the Law, He said to these hypocritical rigorists:
“Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath?”
When they did not answer, He healed the man and dismissed him. Then He said:
“Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a pit, and will not immediately draw him up on the Sabbath?”
Jesus had put this same question to the Pharisees in Galilee, when He cured the man with the withered hand. And now, as then, they remained silent.
Noticing the concern of the guests about getting the more honorable places at the table, Jesus said:
“When thou art invited to a wedding feast, do not recline in the first place, lest perhaps one more distinguished than thou have been invited by him, and he who invited thee and him come and say to thee, ‘Make room for this man’; and then thou begin with shame to take the last place. But when thou art invited, go and recline in the last place; that when he who invited thee comes in, he may say to thee, ‘Friend, go up higher!’ Then thou wilt be honored in the presence of all who are at table with thee. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”
Continuing in the same vein, Jesus said to His host, the Pharisee leader:
“When thou givest a dinner or a supper, do not invite thy friends, or thy brethren, or thy relatives, or thy rich neighbors, lest perhaps they also invite thee in return, and a recompense be made to thee. But when thou givest a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and blessed shalt thou be, because they have nothing to repay thee with; for thou shalt be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
Taking up this reference to the “resurrection of the just,” one of the other guests who were at the table with Jesus remarked to Him:
“Blessed is he who shall feast in the kingdom of God.”
And Jesus replied with another parable, showing that the Jews, the first invited to enter His kingdom, had rejected His invitation and would be replaced by others:
“A certain man gave a great supper, and he invited many. And he sent his servant at supper time to tell those invited to come, for everything is now ready. And they all with one accord began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a farm, and 1 must go out and see it; I pray thee hold me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am on my way to try them; I pray thee hold me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'”
“And the servant returned, and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house was angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor, and the crippled, and the blind, and the lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, thy order has been carried out, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and make them come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you that none of those who were invited shall taste of my supper.'”
On one occasion, when large crowds were following Jesus, He turned to the people and said:
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. And he who does not carry his cross and follow Me, cannot be My disciple.”
“For which of you, wishing to build a tower, does-not sit down first and calculate the outlays that are necessary, whether he has the means to complete it? Lest, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all who behold begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!'”
“Or what king setting out to engage in battle with another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to meet him who with twenty thousand is coming against him? Or else, whilst the other is yet at a distance, he sends a delegation and asks the terms of peace. So, therefore, everyone of you who does not renounce all that he possesses, cannot be My disciple.”
“Salt is good; but if even the salt loses its strength, what shall it be seasoned with? It is fit neither for the land nor for the manure heap, but must be thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Meditation: All men love self too much. All our life long we must fight against this tendency to seek always our own good, our own material advantage and comfort. In struggling for this conquest over self-interest, we may sometimes deceive ourselves as to our motives; even when we examine and assess our actions, the motive of self-love may be behind them and may make their real purpose difficult to discern. Even my attempt to humble myself before my fellowmen “by taking the last place” could be motivated by the hope that their attention would be arrested and that subsequently I would be still more honored. Do I really scrutinize the motives behind my actions?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 163-166. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.