January 20, 2009

Answering God’s Invitation to the Banquet

Reposted from Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Today’s Gospel reading gives us a lot to think about in the realm of invitations and feasts. At Mass this morning, our priest asked us to share our experiences as guests or hosts — what happens when someone you invite doesn’t make it? Or how do you feel when you’re singled out, asked to come to a meal that is special?

I shared about how I have two former officemates who I invited to my wedding in 2000. They never made it. They never tried to contact me either to tell me they couldn’t go or that they had no transportation to get to the church. They simply didn’t show up. Possibly, they felt they would be just one more person in a crowd. I wanted to share our blessed union with them– a day unlike any other — and they didn’t go.

Eucharist. Flickr photo by shioshvili.

To this day, it’s a running joke during those rare times when we get to communicate, that they didn’t come to my wedding and thus get no free favors from me. But the truth is, at the time, it felt … insulting. Almost like, hey, we have more important things to do. Because really, what it boils down to is priorities. If you refuse an invitation, you’re saying something else is more important, is more of a priority.

Which is pretty much what the three characters in today’s Gospel reading (Lk 14:15-24) did: they told the host that they had more important things to do than attend a great dinner. One was concerned about the field he’d just bought (material possessions), one was concerned with oxen he’d just purchased (livelihood, career), and the last was concerned that he’d just been married (relationships). These three were saying “Master, this concern of mine is what’s keeping me from your dinner. Sorry, I’m out.”

How sad the Father must feel when we refuse His invitation. Because it’s a free dinner He calls us to share in. One where all we need to bring is a humble and contrite heart. One where we are called to join our large, celestial family of Heaven-dwelling and Earth-bound saints in the praise and worship of the eternal Bread of Life, who is Jesus. Jesus present in our brethren gathered around the table. Jesus in the Word of Sacred Scripture. Jesus come down to Earth in the Blessed Eucharist.

Maybe it’s time we stop letting our obsession with material possessions hinder us from “tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.” Maybe it’s time we stop making our careers and livelihoods the central focus of our energies instead of following the Will of God for our lives. Maybe it’s time we stop making relationships and other people as our excuse for not getting to Mass or church or synagogue or chapel, for not fostering our relationship with Him.

Maybe it’s time we heed the call.

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