Musing on Parenting and Luke 14:1, 7-14
I hope that you will take the opportunity to read Luke 14:1, 7-14. Jesus is teaching at a meal where he is guest. He tells the other guests to stop chasing the best seat. If you sit in the best seat, you run the risk of being demoted by the host to a lesser seat. How embarrassing. If you sit in the lowest seat, the odds are that your host will promote you to a better seat. How awesome you will look to the others as the host leads you to a better place. Jesus then summarizes that the exalted will be humbled and the humble will be exalted. I’ve heard this teaching before, and so may you. This teaching also resonates well with my experience of the world.
Then Jesus turns to the host. Jesus says that the host should invite people who cannot repay. The host should invite the marginalized, oppressed, avoided, disgarded because they are unable to return the favor of the invitation. In this way, the host will be repaid in Heaven for what he / she was not repaid on earth.
I love the distinction between the things of earth and the things of heaven. Remember the teaching about storing up treasure that will not rust? This teaching may not appear in many self-help books about climbing the ladder of corporate success. However, it is a lesson that the faithful and the curious have heard before.
Parenting - this teaching of Jesus gets very rewarding when I apply it to parenting.
If you are, have been, or look forward to being a parent, you may share this motivation with me. We want the best for our children. We want the best school, church, community, friends, etc. This motivation may even lead us to building lists. The list of friends we want our child to play. The list of friends we hope they never meet.
Jesus says we should invite the marginalized, oppressed, avoided, disgarded because they are unable to return the favor of the invitation. If we value Jesus’ teaching about storing up treasure that will not rust, do we dare teach it to our children? More than storing up treasure that does not rust, what of our base responsibility to our neighbor? Do we dare teach that responsibility to our children?
Of course we do. Each time we give our children the opportunity to serve at a soup kitchen, deliver meals on wheels, sow a blanket for Project Night Night, bring school donations for the local pantry - we help them build a relationship with those who cannot repay.
There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for our children. It is good parenting to want more for our children than we have ourselves. The most faithful parents understand that serving those who cannot repay is critical for giving our children more than we can given them on our own. These relationships transformation our children. It is a powerful way of passing on the faith.