"Come, everything is now ready" (Luke 14:17).
Today’s U.S. elections invite us to reflect on those who compete for power. Public service can be heroic or a path to self-aggrandizement. Politics is a brutal contact sport, and those who enter it know there are winners and losers, careers made and destroyed, lives enhanced by opportunity or ruined by corruption.
The famous hymn in Philippians 2:5-11 celebrates the self-emptying of Jesus on a path toward total service and surrender to the will of God. To liberate us from sin he becomes a slave, obedient unto death, death on a cross. He models leadership in humble service and self-sacrifice. He is the hero who lays down his life for his friends, the master who washes the feet of his disciples. He practices the politics of downward mobility and nonviolent persuasion. His campaign favors the poor and the outcast, turning upside down the hierarchies of status and privilege.
Jesus presses his upside down vision in today’ Gospel parable of the man who gave a banquet that none of the invited guests attended. So the man opened his feast to street beggars, the poor, blind and lame. It is an outrageous and unlikely scene, why no politician has ever come to power by literally imitating Jesus. But some have grasped the principle of the common good and understood that a society is measured not by how it protects the rich but by how it cares for the poor. No system survives for long if it fails to build a foundation on the common good. What Jesus proposed was counterintuitive but also deeply wise and true because it is based on justice.
We pray for our presumptive leaders today, both in civil society and in the church. May they be servant leaders, inspired to empty themselves for the sake of the community. God approves such candidates and so should we.