Parable of the Great Banquet

Luke 14: 15-24
Rom 12:5-16ab / Ps 131:1-3

Blessed is the one who will dine in the kingdom of God.
(Luke 14:15)0

How we hurt God with our rejection,
When He calls and we refuse to come;
There is no greater invitation
Than to the banquet of God’s kingdom.

When one of those at the table with Him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed are those who eat at the banquet in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A man once gave a feast 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 compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.” (Luke 14:15-24)

Reflection

Our Lord’s parable was a subtle rebuke of the religious authorities at that time who had rejected His invitation for them to repent and accept His words of redemption. Because of their rejection, this parable of a wedding banquet also served as His prophecy that salvation would be given instead to the gentiles.

Today’s Gospel may also reflect modern man’s rejection of God’s invitation to reform his ways and turn to a new life in Christ. Many have become so materialistic in their outlook that they have lost sight of the more important purpose of their existence – to become worthy guests to enter the kingdom of God at the appointed time.

Free will is a gift from God that many of us take for granted. So is faith, love and the hope of eternal life in His kingdom. We often forget that although these gifts were freely given, they entail a good amount of responsibility and sacrifice. The freedom to choose what we want to do with our life does not mean we are not accountable for all our actions. The gift of faith does not ensure our ticket to heaven unless we strive “to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.” And what greater gift of love is there than the Father’s only Son, Who submitted to a painful and humiliating death if only to show us that the real meaning of love is sacrifice, and unless we take up His cross and follow after Him, we cannot be worthy of that love. (Mt.10:38) Finally, God’s gift of hope is His invitation to join Him and all the faithful to an eternal feast in His kingdom. He does not impose on our freedom to heed His call, just as He does not influence our beliefs and our capacity to love. But to spurn God’s invitation, after all the love and sacrifice that He has given us is like being invited to a wedding feast, saying “Yes, I will come,” and afterwards giving a lame excuse that you cannot make it because of some other matter that needs your attention. What a great insult to the One Who paid such a high price to offer us this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

A turning point in life can sometimes happen in a banquet. Many years ago, I invited a casual acquaintance to a big party in our house to celebrate the silver wedding anniversary of my parents. Being poor, he did not have the proper attire, so I lent him my coat and tie. He was tall and handsome, and none of the ladies that he danced with at the party could have guessed his humble origins. When we met again many years later, he told me that that invitation to our party changed the course of his life. It was when he discovered he had the confidence to become successful. He had made the right choice to accept my invitation.

What we have become we owe everything to You, Lord, when You invited us to Your fellowship. As your guests we have received all Your gifts because we have nothing of value that we can give to You, but our willingness to accept Your invitation. Amen.

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