Have you RSVP’d?


7 November 2017

Today we continue Gospel Master Chef – Jesus, a dinner guest, has just spoken about who to invite to dinner, someone interjects with a fawning comment about the coming heavenly banquet, and so Jesus tells a story about a dinner invitation.

It’s a well-known story, but as always with God’s word, there’s always more going on. On the surface; party invites, guests, don’t turn up even when personally followed up, the host invites the local poor, there is still room, so the invitations go further afield until the venue is full.

Well okay, like a recent media story of a jilted bride who had already paid invited homeless people to the reception; the master made the best of an awkward situation. It’s nice, but why is Jesus telling us?

Perhaps we know that Jesus (at that time the guest of a Pharisee), was aiming the story at the host and his confederates. They were in the process of rejecting His invitation to the Kingdom and that the message will go beyond the religious elite and even beyond Israel itself to ‘the ends of the earth’ – aka us.

However, before we get too smug, let’s look again. The word of God is alive and active. The key is identifying what the Lord is saying to me – and to you – personally.

It appears from the context that the initial group had accepted the invitation – they had said that they were coming but didn’t show up. To Jesus’ first listeners this was a severe etiquette breach. Secondly, the excuses offered were laughably pathetic.

There is a saying in some Christian movements ‘Once saved, always saved.’ This has never been Catholic belief. If we hear this Gospel at Mass, if we are reflecting on it privately, we have probably already accepted the Master’s great invitation. The all good, all loving God, through no virtue of ours has opened the way to eternal joy with Him.

We have the invitation in our hand, and if we have RSVP’d, our place is reserved. But…we must journey towards this grand banquet. We can by our actions, repudiate our reply – through fixation on material possessions (land and oxen) through excessive focus on relationships – even appropriate ones (more on that tomorrow), through taking God’s goodness for granted, we can lose our way. 

The party is going to be seriously awesome. You really want to be there – Keep going!