The Gospel according to Luke (14:15-24)
One of those at table with Jesus said to him,
“Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.”
He replied to him,
“A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many.
When the time for the dinner came,
he dispatched his servant to say to those invited,
‘Come, everything is now ready.’
But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves.
The first said to him,
‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen
and am on my way to evaluate them;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have just married a woman,
and therefore I cannot come.’
The servant went and reported this to his master.
Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant,
‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town
and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
The servant reported, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out
and still there is room.’
The master then ordered the servant,
‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows
and make people come in that my home may be filled.
For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.'”
Observant listeners in Sunday Mass will likely recognize the parable Jesus proposes here today. Three Sundays ago, we had this same parable from Matthew’s Gospel. It is a very challenging image, isn’t it? Today, I’d like to take a little bit of a different spin on it, thanks to one of the sources I often consult when preparing these reflections: the Irish Jesuits.
The focus when we heard this story from Matthew (at least, in homilies at my parish) was on the amazing welcome of God for all of us His children. We are the ones that the servants sought out to bring us to the feast. It’s a wonderful image, right? There’s another way to look at it, though. The Irish Jesuits pointed out that one plausible view of this parable was to remind God’s chosen people that they couldn’t just “slide by” and make it to the banquet. No. They had to still work out their faith and live like those who know that nothing they can ever do can merit the welcome to the eternal kingdom.
That’s a great lesson for us today, too. Those of us who are Baptized are forgiven, and are a son or daughter of the Eternal King. That’s why Baptisms are such a celebration! But, that’s not the end of the story, nor the end of the journey. We still have to live as a member of God’s family, and we still have to follow the example left for us by Jesus to extend love, kindness, mercy and forgiveness to all. We can’t say that we can just sit back and “let God do all the work”, knowing our place in heaven is secure.
We are adopted as members of God’s family, but we each still have a job to do, and that job is one that is only for each one of us. Why do we have to work? Because we have an amazingly generous God who wants not just each of us in His family and in His kingdom, but He wants *everyone* to be at the banquet. How do we help with that? We do it by living out our faith and the promise God made when we were Baptized. Let each of us not fear that we aren’t worthy, but know that Jesus made us worthy, and we should share that story by our lives so that others have that same knowledge and hope. Let us share that through our actions today and every day!
Action for the Day:
Watch for opportunities to shine God’s light today. Ask God to show you how you can be a herald of the wonderful heavenly banquet that never ends!
If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below!