On the 2nd Sunday before the Nativity, the parable of the great banquet from Luke is read. It states that certain guests were invited to the banquet, but the following happened:
They all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’” (Luke 14:18-20)
What a good time it would be for families to take some time to discuss the excuses people made in this parable and see where they apply to the lives of family members.
- I have bought a field and most go out and see it. Examine how a job has dominated a spouse’s life, so that they are not home to spend time with family or attend church. To what extent has there been too much participation in school activities that interfere with participation in worship? (Perhaps not as much an issue now due to Covid).
- I have bought five yoke of oxen and must go examine them. Examine among family members whether there is too much consumption of food and drink and/or preoccupation with acquiring material possessions or worldly wealth. How much time is spent on sharing what you have with others?
- I have married a wife and therefore cannot come. It is very important for husbands and wives to spend time together and not to ignore each other. But to what extent does that become problematic when it comes to the invitation to the Eucharist banquet and our preparation for it? Does this question come up in marital conflict: “Do you love the Church more than me?” Does this prevent us from coming to the Eucharistic banquet?
- In response to the above, are we able to give thanks to God for the gifts we have been given and recognize them as such—that we are stewards and not owners of what has been given to us?
After these excuses are made, the host of the banquet tells his servants to go out to the streets and invite all to come: “Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). This verse reminds us that among the banquet attendees, not all are marching to the same tune. Some are wealthy, some are poor; some virtuous while others are lacking in virtue. St. Ambrose in his comment on this gospel says: “He turned to the Gentiles from the careless scorn of the rich. He invites both good and evil to enter in order to strengthen the good and change the disposition of the wicked for the better.” Do we call upon our Lord to make “the evil be good by His Goodness?”
As we continue to prepare for the coming of our Lord, let us call upon our Lord’s Grace to cultivate in us a compassionate and kind attitude towards each other; where there is mutual understanding and mutual forgiveness towards each another. Let us be more concerned with plank in our own eye and less about the speck in the eye of our brother and sister.
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you,
The unworthy +Paul