One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’
So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”
I like helping others, BUT I am too busy. I want to spend more time with the people I care about, BUT I have no free time. Our ‘buts’ and our excuses cripple our ability to love, to be generous and generative. They prevent us from following Jesus.
The parable in today’s Gospel tells us what we already know: invited to collaborate with Jesus in his liberating and redeeming mission, we often make excuses for not doing so. It’s time-consuming, too difficult, too demanding, etc. Yet, Jesus reminds us that we have a choice in joining him at the banquet table. And Jesus points out that this banquet table, his image for the kingdom of God, includes everyone, especially the marginalized and outcast in our world.
Do I make excuses for not following Jesus like the new landowner and new spouse in the parable? How is God inviting me to widen the banquet table, to build God’s kingdom here and now to include everyone, especially the poor and marginalized?
—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.
Lord Jesus, you invite us to co-labor with you in building your kingdom here on earth. Help us to move past our excuses and join you at the banquet table you have prepared for all. Widen our hearts to include everyone, particularly those on the margins. Amen
—The Jesuit Prayer team
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