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Come to the Banquet Today

 

October 12, 2014 click on left end of black bar to play-pause

October 12, 2014
Matthew 22: 1-14, Isaiah 25: 6-10a
Father George Smiga

A recent business survey reported that one third of American workers played hooky from their job at least one day during the past year. The same survey compiled the most creative excuses that the workers came up with to explain their absence. Here are the top five.

Number 5: “I was sprayed by a skunk.”

Number 4: “I couldn’t find my shoes.”

Number 3: “I eloped.”

Number 2: “My brain went to sleep and I couldn’t wake it up.”

And Number 1: “My cat unplugged the alarm clock.”

Now I don’t think that most of these workers intended to quit their job. They just wanted a day off. They made their excuses in the presupposition that they would work the next day. They simply judged that missing one day of work was not that significant.

But what if their refusal to come did not refer to their work but to their eternal happiness? What if the excuses they made ended up absenting them from the kingdom of God? This is what today’s parable is about. Those in the parable who refused the invitation were not necessarily opposed to celebrating with the king. They just didn’t want to do it today. They presumed that other invitations would come. But what those invited did not understand was that this was no ordinary invitation. This was no ordinary feast. This was the wedding banquet for the king’s son. That detail tips us off that the banquet in the parable refers to the eternal banquet that God is preparing for all peoples, the banquet that Isaiah describes in today’s first reading. So saying no to this invitation, is saying no to the supper of the Lamb. It is refusing eternal joy.

When people refuse the invitation, the king in the parable cuts them off. But our God is different. God continues to invite us day after day. God never tires of asking us “Won’t you come to the wedding banquet of my son?” This parable is warning us that because that invitation is so important, because that banquet is so essential, we should not postpone the opportunity of saying “Yes” to the one who invites us.

How often has God invited us to examine the prejudices that we carry? How often has God suggested that we look at the way that we judge people of another race, religion, or political view? How often has God asked us to look at the narrow way we are thinking and to enlarge it, to find new information or to talk with someone with more experience? We respond, “Yes I know I should, but not today. I’d rather keep thinking the way I do a bit longer.” How often has God invited us to do some good deed for another person, to help an elderly neighbor, to visit a sick friend, to give something of what we have received to those who have less? We respond, “Yes I’ll do that, but not today. Today I would prefer to keep my energy for myself.” How many times has God invited us to be thankful for the people in our lives, to take time with our children, to address an issue in our marriage, to be thankful for our friends, or for the people with whom we work? We answer, “Yes I know, but I am so busy. There are so many things I have to do. Let me do those things first.”

God keeps inviting us, day after day. But if we refuse too many times, our prejudices can become too set to change. Our habits can become too fixed to allow us to serve others. Our children can become too old or our marriage too compromised for us to enjoy them.

So when the next invitation comes, do not turn away. Recognize that this is not a casual or trivial request. Understand that God is offering this invitation with all of his hope and all of his love. When God asks, do not make an excuse. Do not blame the cat. Say “Yes I will come to the wedding feast of your son, today.”

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