The Gospel St. Luke 14.16
At that time: Jesus spake unto the Pharisees this parable: A certain man made a great supper, and bade many : and sent his servants at suppertime to say to them that were bidden : Come, for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him: I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it; I pray thee, have me excused. And another said: I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee, have me excused. And another said: I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant: Go out quickly into the streets, and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said: Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant: Go out into the highways and hedges: and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden, shall taste of my supper.
I believe that all of us here are familiar with the phrase “preaching to the choir”. For a priest this means getting up and delivering a message that the assembled congregation have already received, understood, and pretty much follow. It can be an exercise in futility; why would I tell you something that you already know? If there is one way that is almost assured to get your audience to stop listening, it’s “preaching to the choir”.
Such would seem to be the case today. We’ve all heard this same passage from St. Luke’s Gospel many times, and likewise we’ve no doubt heard any number of sermons preached on the main theme; the “banquet”, meaning the Mass, has been made ready by Our Lord, represented here as the master of the house; and we are all invited and bidden to partake of His Supper each and every time it is offered. Right. Got it. Here we all are! Next subject please!
But of course, it’s not that simple. Yes, we are here; we have accepted that invitation, and we are not like those people, who in this context were the Pharisees of that time, who made any number of excuses not to attend. But the larger question here is; who are we now?
A somewhat odd question, I’ll grant you. After all, we know who we are; we’re faithful Catholic Christians who have heard the Word of God and have dutifully come to Mass on Sunday. We are not like those Pharisees, and indeed like those in our world today, who have rejected the invitation and made up some excuse not to be here. And from that point of view, I would agree with you. We are not those Pharisees. But then, who exactly are we now?
Well then, perhaps we’re like those who were brought in from the streets and lanes of the city. Certainly, spiritually speaking, we can all admit that at some point in time we have been poor, maimed, halt or blind. But that all cleared up once we became fully immersed in Our Lord’s banquet, didn’t it? So is that really who we are now?
Maybe we’re like that next group of people who were brought in from the highways and hedges; a group that tended to be a rather unsavory lot, let me tell you. Surely we can relate to those among them who would wander from town to town, perhaps plying a trade or selling goods, but always searching for some way to make their lives better. But again, haven’t we found that better life? Haven’t we found a home and ended our wandering? Is that really who we are now?
So, if we’ve eliminated the Pharisees, and we’ve eliminated the spiritually poor, halt, maimed and blind, and we’ve eliminated the wanderers on the highways, then who exactly are we? The answer, of course, is also in today’s Gospel lesson; Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded. Sound familiar? You guessed it; we can only be the servants of the Master.
We cannot be like those Pharisees because we have accepted Our Lord’s invitation. We cannot be like those poor, halt, maimed and blind because our souls have been healed by His Most Precious Body and Blood. We cannot be like those wanderers because we have found our home and our new life in Christ. And so, having eliminated all the other characters in Our Lord’s Parable, we must therefore be the servants of the Master.
What all of this means is that we now have to accept our new position of responsibility. By accepting His invitation, we have also accepted that we have become His servants. And as His servants, we are obligated to follow his commands.
And His commands are so very simple; Go out quickly into the streets, and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind; Go out into the highways and hedges: and compel them to come in; say to them that were bidden : Come, for all things are now ready. And the purpose of His commands are equally clear; that my house may be filled.
What does that mean for us here today? Well, let’s start by asking these questions; do we congratulate ourselves for our successful effort to be here on yet another Sunday? Are we happy with ourselves that we have answered Our Lord’s invitation? Are we content that we have fulfilled our duty to the Church? Are we comfortable that we have given our best service to God? Now look around you here today. Anyone here think that this house, Gods House, is filled?
I hope by now that you’ve gotten the point; “Go out quickly into the streets, and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind; Go out into the highways and hedges: and compel them to come in; say to them that were bidden : Come, for all things are now ready”. Yes, it’s that same old message again; “you’ve got to tell others”. It’s time right now for us to witness our Faith and our Church to anyone who will listen. It’s time for us to make contact with those of our brethren whom we haven’t seen at Church for a while and remind them that the invitation is still open to them. It’s time for us to act as true servants of Our Lord.
It is time to go out as Christ commands us, to make disciples of all nations and peoples and to fill His House. God has prepared a great supper. It is now up to us, as His servants, to proclaim to all, Come, for all things are now ready.
Trinity II – 2015