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November 6, 2018 - Accepting the Invitation to God’s Table

Tuesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Most of the time when I receive an invitation I am just grateful that someone wants to have me over. I look forward to enjoying a meal with them and to spending time with them and perhaps others.

That said, I also know that there are times (more than I want to admit) when I do not receive an invitation as I should. Often, I’m sorry to have to confess, it’s because I’m “protecting my time” as folks like to say these days. The demands of everyday life can make me long just to stay home. Whenever that happens I always struggle to come up with a good way to convey my regrets. And that is no doubt because there really isn’t a good way to turn down an invitation just because I want to hang out in my pajama pants and a comfy sweatshirt at home rather than get dressed and put out some social effort.

The folks in the parable from Luke today remind me of myself. Their regrets or excuses aren’t convincing at all. For whatever reasons, and we really don’t know what they are, they would just rather not attend the host’s generous banquet. Maybe they’re lazy. Or perhaps they think they have something better to do. Or maybe, despite his obvious wealth, the host was just not trending socially upward at the time. What is delightful about this host is his answer to these privileged invitees and their poor excuses. He gets mad and opens his house to all the kinds of people who never receive such invitations because of their social rank. They are the poor, the lame, the crippled, and the like. With enthusiasm, he fills his house with folks like that.

Of course, that turn in the story has to make us think of the Jesus that Paul is talking about as the one who became a slave and emptied himself to the point of death, even death on a cross. This banquet to which the privileged were invited and rejected has become a banquet for the least of these—just the sort of people Jesus reached out to throughout his ministry and identified with in the most visible and powerful way in his passion and death.

One of the things I think this parable is trying to teach me is that I need to be much more attentive to invitations . . . and a lot less protective of my time. I suspect that God is putting invitations in front of me all the time. Not just to social gatherings of friends and colleagues and the like but to God’s banquet where we all, all of us, and especially those at the bottom of this society, are welcome. May I pay attention and, even better, accept the invitations God is giving me to join His banquet. And may I be transformed by all those I encounter at His table. Amen. 

- Sue Trollinger