“Then you will be blessed, because they do not have the means to pay you back” (Luke 14:12-15)

Ἔλεγε δὲ καὶ τῷ κεκληκότι αὐτόν· ὅταν ποιῇς ἄριστον ἢ δεῖπνον, μὴ φώνει τοὺς φίλους σου μηδὲ τοὺς ἀδελφούς σου μηδὲ τοὺς συγγενεῖς σου μηδὲ γείτονας πλουσίους, μήποτε καὶ αὐτοί σε ἀντικαλέσωσι, καὶ γενήσεταί σοι ἀνταπόδομα. ἀλλʼ ὅταν ποιῇς δοχήν, κάλει πτωχούς, ἀναπήρους, χωλούς, τυφλούς, καὶ μακάριος ἔσῃ, ὅτι οὐκ ἔχουσιν ἀνταποδοῦναί σοι· ἀνταποδοθήσεται γάρ σοι ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει τῶν δικαίων.

Ἀκούσας δέ τις τῶν συνανακειμένων ταῦτα εἶπεν αὐτῷ· μακάριος ὃς φάγεται ἄριστον ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ.

Jesus also said to the one who had invited him, When you make a dinner or a supper, do not call your friends, brothers, kinsmen or rich neighbors because they might return the favor and pay you back. Instead, when you give a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind [to come]. Then you will be blessed, because they do not have the means to pay you back. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous.

When one of those who sat at the table with him heard these things, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will feast in the Kingdom of God!”

Luke 14:12-15, Eastern Orthodox Bible New Testament

 


14:12-15

Now the natural person does not receive the things of God’s Spirit because they are foolishness to him, and such a person cannot know these things because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

They said to you that “in the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts.” These [scoffers] are the ones who cause divisions, because they are sensual and deprived of the Spirit. (Jude 18-19)

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Those at the dinner fall into two groups: the hosts and the guests. First the Lord gave an exhortation to the guests, and by guiding them to the saving virtue of humility, He set before them, as it were, a tasty dish that is never depleted. But also to the host who had invited Him, the Lord shows generous hospitality in return, feasting him with His exhortation not to give dinners in order to win the favor of men and for the sake of getting something quickly in return. Those of small soul invite their friends or their relatives expecting the favor to be returned at once, and if it is not, they are grieved. Those of great soul wait to receive their reward in the future form Him Who is truly rich. In saying these things the Lord does not bar us from honoring our friends with hospitality; instead He teaches us not to show kindness for a price. When a certain man there at the dinner heard the Lord say these things, he thought that God will reward with hospitality and will make feasts for the righteous with material food, and said, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” This man, being still a natural man and not spiritual, was not able to understand the things that are beyond the senses, and as a natural man was governed by human reasonings. Such a natural man believes in terms of physical nature. There are three conditions of man: the carnal [σαρκικός] state, the natural [ψυχικός] state, and the spiritual [πνευματικός] state. The carnal state is when man takes pleasure and rejoices by maltreating others. Such is the condition of those who are greedy for more [at another man’s expense]. The natural state is when a man desires neither to hurt nor to be hurt. In this state a man lives according to nature. For nature itself teaches us to desire neither to hurt or to be hurt. The spiritual state is when a man is willing even to be harmed and to be ill-treated for the sake of the good. The first state, then, is against nature, the second state is according to nature, and the third state is above nature. Every one, therefore, who thinks only human thoughts, and is unable to understand anything that is beyond nature, is said to be ia natural man, and he is governed not by the spirit alone, but by his animal soul as well. But when a man is led by the Holy Spirit, it is no longer he himself that lives, but Christ lives in him [Galatians 2:20]. This is a spiritual man, who surpasses nature. But the man here in the Gospel who thought that the saints would receive material rewards of a kind knowable by the senses, was a natural and sensual man, unable to understand anything beyond nature.

St. Theophylact of Ochrid, Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke (tr. from the Greek by Fr. Christopher Stade; Chrysostom Press, 2004)

 

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As an indication of whom to invite to lunch or dinner, take for yourself a rule: do not do anything for your neighbor with a view to receive recompense from him here. But this does not mean that you will spend everything in vain. In due course all will be returned to you. Regarding all God-pleasing works – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – in the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord commanded us to do them secretly. Why? Because the Heavenly Father will openly reward those who act this way. Therefore, a Christian should prepare future bliss for himself through all his labors in life. He should build himself an eternal home, and send provisions there in advance for all eternity. This is not being mercenary, because one’s own material interests are limited to this life, while [the future] life is to the detriment of those interests. Furthermore, it is impossible to live this way without faith, hope, and love toward the Lord. Acting according to the commandments in hope of recompense is likewise a remote kind of activity. And yet it is closer and more intelligible to the heart than something else which is too unreal – for example, to do good for the sake of good. You will not find the latter anywhere in Scripture. There is a higher incentive here: do everything for the sake of the Lord and do not fear loss.

St. Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year (tr. from the Russian by Lisa Marie Baranov, St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2010)

 


14:12
μὴ φώνει τοὺς φίλους σου μηδὲ τοὺς ἀδελφούς σου μηδὲ τοὺς συγγενεῖς σου μηδὲ γείτονας πλουσίους

Lit. Do not be calling your friends, brothers, kinsmen or rich neighbors

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Is it His will then that we be unsociable, and unloving, so as not even to deem our friends and relatives worthy of that affection which especially is fitting and due to them? Does He forbid the rights of hospitality? What then does He wish to teach?

He teaches us to love the poor, which is a thing precious in the sight of the Lord. Doest thou feel pleasure in being praised when thou hast any friends or relatives feasting with thee? I tell thee of something far better. Angels shall praise thy bounty, and the rational powers above, and holy men as well. And he too shall accept it Who transcends all. Lend unto Him, fearing nothing, and thou shalt receive with usury whatever thou gavest.

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homilies on the Gospel According to St. Luke, Homily 103

As David says: Let their table become a snare and a trap; a stumbling block; Let it be their recompense! Let their eyes be darkened so that they may not see, And keep their backs forever bent. (Romans 11:9-10)

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The testimony of the Prophet David is from Psalm 68 [LXX], verses 22 and 23. The whole psalm is a prayer of the Incarnate Son of God on the eve of His betrayal, trial, and crucifixion. He prays, as Man, for deliverance from the sufferings inflicted upon Him by His own people, and He foresees the consequences of their rejection.

… It seems important to recall that in the Psalm, in the immediately preceding verse (21), the Lord cried out, “And they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” [Matthew 27:34]. For all His beneficence, they repaid Him in this way. Now, their repayment or recompense will be their “table,” all they have and do, becoming a delusion for them. “Recompense” translates [ἀνταπόδομα], which is found only in one other place in the New Testament, in Luke 14:12, where it has the sense of repayment of a favor

Archbishop Dmitri Royster, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: A Pastoral Commentary (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2008)

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