”He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Excuses rule the day in today’s Gospel (Luke 14:15-24) wherein Jesus tells the Parable of the Slighted Invitation. In this tale, each individual responds to their invitation to dine in the Kingdom of God with a unique reason why he cannot attend. One man purchased a field and felt compelled to examine it. Another purchased five yoke of oxen and was on his way to evaluate them. Still another said that he had just married a woman and therefore could not attend. “If I cannot drink bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go,” said yet another. Actually that last comment is not in today’s passage but instead a quote from Mark Twain (just making sure you were paying attention). Nevertheless, it would appear as though God literally can’t give Heaven away. What’s going on here? Who turns down an invitation to share in the banquet of eternal life?
This parable illustrates the rejection of Jesus by many of his own Jewish countrymen, contrasted however with the Gentiles’ acceptance of Him. For as we plunge deeper into this passage, we see that the Master instructed his servant to “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.” This command by the Master is a nod to John 1:11-12, which proclaims “He came to his own, and those who were his own did not receive him. But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God - to those who believe.”
This passage affords the reader the opportunity to reflect upon the priorities in his or her life. Where does God fall on that burgeoning list? Are you engaging in vitriolic political arguments with total strangers on Social Media or watching seven straight hours of Netflix instead of seeking out precious opportunities to encounter God by way of the foretaste of Heaven that is the celebration of Holy Mass or uninterrupted time in prayer? We must prioritize as if our eternal fate hangs in the balance. After all, it does.
As we wrap up this passage, it’s also important to point out that the servant, upon returning to the Master on the heels of carrying out his order, responded to him “Sir, your orders have been carried out and still there is room.” This underscores our need to evangelize. The Master in today’s story confirms this by his response as he tells his servant to ‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled.” This too is our call: to go out and do our part to fill the Heavenly Kingdom with God’s beloved children. It has been said, and it’s so true, that those who have been rescued yearn to rescue others. As children of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5) we are called to bring that light into a world that is cloaked in the darkness of despair and hopelessness.
On the topic of evangelization, I leave you with a quote from Saint John Paul II, a man whose legendary 27 year Pontificate was steeped in the virtue of hope, the joyful anticipation of one day residing in the Kingdom that will never end. This great Vicar of Christ knew that Heaven is filled with converted sinners of all kinds. His Papacy was a reminder to all that there is room for more. Make haste to begin booking your reservation today.
“Christian hope sustains us in committing ourselves fully to the new evangelization and to the worldwide mission, and leads us to pray as Jesus taught us: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” ~ Saint John Paul II
BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on November 07, 2020:
I hope God knows that this time with Covid-19 is keeping alot of us away, but even if not inside his house we are still with him talking everyday.
But yes, we all make excuses from time to time.