“…I cannot come.”  Luke 14:20

Sooner or later, that day comes to all of us. We have an epiphany and it either brings us great joy or great sorrow. That day is the moment when it dawns on us – “Oh Lord, I’m just like my father (or my mother)!”  Marriage counselors talk about the “domestic moment.” The romantic bubble pops, and you realize that your wife is just like her mother, and your wife realizes that you are just like your father. This moment can occur at any time in the relationship. It takes patience and love to get past this event and realize a deeper commitment that will carry you through the rest of your relationship.

Our family wasn’t something that we chose for ourselves. We were joined to our families, and the impact upon us proved to be more powerful than we imagined. Whatever we join ourselves to will affect us for good or for ill. Over my life, I have joined myself to many things and each one influenced me, changed my way of thinking, and set me feet on a different path. I now realize that I have to be more careful about what I join.

Someone said to Jesus that the Kingdom of Heaven would be a great party.  Well, most parties begin with an invitation to friends. To know how many to prepare for, the invitation usually includes an RSVP, It is expected that those who receive an invitation will respond quickly so that the host will have time to properly prepare. Since you invite your friends, though a few may decline, you expect that most will accept your invitation.

In the parable of the Great Feast, the host is shocked to find that everyone one that he invited declined the invitation. Every one! Each invitee had an excuse why he couldn’t attend. One had family obligations; another had business interests that needed his attention. All these excuses were legitimate, but how often do we receive an invitation to a great banquet. Banquets are sumptuous and are meant to bring great joy. We rarely pass up an invitation to a banquet no matter what else is going on. If the invitation is to some small party (you know, to buy Tupperware), then excuses seem right. This was an invitation to the Great Feast, a party above all parties, and no one could come? I imagine if we got an invitation to visit the White House to meet the President and sit at a great dinner, no one would refuse.

Of course, in its original context, those invited to the Feast were the Jews, and since they refused to come, the host told his servants to go out and get everyone they could find, even the poor and the ill, and bring them to the party. The sick and ill are the Gentiles who have been brought to the Great Feast. We Gentiles have been much more responsive to the invitation, haven’t we?

The Fathers tell us that we join ourselves to our passions, and each time we do, they place a claim upon us, and we are changed. What changes most is our ability to respond to God’s invitation to dine with Him. Each Sunday, he prepares the Great Feast and invites us to attend. Married to our passions, burdened with the cares of life, we cannot come! Even worse, we come to the House, but will not eat or drink what is set before us. I guess that for most of us, we would just quit inviting such people. Thank God, he is more patient than we are,

Is there anything in this world – pleasures, relationships, business, family, schedule, hurts, depression, sins, etc.- that could serve as a reason to miss the greatest Banquet of all time. Surely, by declining, we must believe that its only bread and wine, a mere symbol that we need not participate in, a small party that we need not attend. There’s no way that we can believe that it is really Jesus, His Flesh and Blood, that is being offered, and refuse to accept. How can it be so? After all, this is but a foretaste of the Great Feast that is coming.

Sadly, we have joined ourselves to things, and they have laid their claim on us and changed us so that we no longer respond to the invitation with any enthusiasm.  God help us that we will never hear Him say, “None of those who are invited will taste of my dinner.” Tell you passions, your friends, your business contacts, and your family that you cannot attend to them right now because you have a previous engagement. You are to be the guest of the great King at the party of all parties.

Respondez s’il vous plait!

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