The Banquet in God’s Kingdom


Luke 14: 15-24
Rom 12: 5-16 / Psa 131

. . . make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.
(Luke 14:23b-24)

Christ invites us to celebrate
His banquet without condition;
Nor to be proud to associate
With people of low position.

When one of those at the table with Him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ” (Luke 14: 15-24)

Reflection

This parable of the banquet that our Lord related could well be His prophecy of the changing fortunes of the Jews vis-a-vis the gentile world (the poor, crippled, blind and lame), to the exclusion and disinheritance of the original “guests” – the Jews, who were supposed to be the Chosen People of God. The banquet symbolized both the great celebration in the kingdom of God as well as the celebration of the Holy Eucharist that would replace the Passover feast of the Jews, which, ironically, was also a memorial of the salvation of their forefathers from their slavery in Egypt at the time of Moses.

The Jews brought about their own estrangement from God when they rejected Jesus, His Son, the Messiah, and even persecuted the early Christians. We read in the book of Acts that when the Jews talked abusively against Paul and Barnabas, Paul told them: ‘It was necessary that the Word of God be spoken to you first. But since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth” ’ (Acts 13:45-46). Clearly, the apostles were fulfilling Christ’s mandate to “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.”

The Gospel today also makes us reflect on modern man’s rejection of God’s invitation to reform his ways and turn to a new life in Christ. We have become too materialistic – our business concerns, social duties, lofty ambitions, leisure activities, and even vices have taken precedence — that we have lost sight of the more important reason for our existence: to prepare ourselves to be worthy guests and be able to enter the kingdom of God at the appointed time. St. Paul tells us how in the first reading: “Be sincere in love; hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Love one another with mutual affection. . . Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited” (Rom 12: 9-10,15-16). There are some who decide not to come (join) because they refuse to associate with people that they consider to be below their social station. Such prejudice is akin to self condemnation.

Lord, in our sinfulness we know we are not worthy of Your invitation; but we rejoice in the knowledge that You are willing to accept us as we are, as long as we are sincere in love, and hate what is evil. May we always be fervent in serving You and Your Word, until our Lord Jesus finally welcomes us into Your great banquet in heaven. Amen.

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