28 Sun OT Yr A (2017)
Ss. Peter & Paul - Danville
What about the servants?
I’ve prayed with this parable hundreds of times. It is packed with insight. Insight about the king: all he wants is for everyone to enjoy the feast, but time and again the invited guests shrug off his kindness and friendship. They’re too busy, too focused on their own priorities to enjoy the king’s hospitality. That’ll preach – I’ve preached it before: look what happens when we set our priorities higher than the king’s; the king sends destruction upon us and our city. Whatever that means, I don’t want it. There are insights about those who receive the invitation and are willing to come: we don’t have to be worthy to come to the feast, as long as we’re willing to receive the invitation and say yes, we get to go to the feast! That’ll preach – I’ve preached it before. We don’t have to be smart, holy, or have it all figured out – all we have to do is come when we’re invited. Will you come? Insights about the difference between being worthy and being prepared: we do have to come wearing our love of God and our trust in Christ and the Sacraments. That’ll preach – I’ve preached it before. We don’t have to be worthy, but we do have to be prepared – wrapped up in our trust of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, relying on His grace in the sacraments, or we’ll be thrown out. Getting dressed for the feast is to wrap ourselves in Christ, His love, His discipline and obedience, accepting of and conforming ourselves to His teaching and God’s plan.
Mmmm…good…very good, Dr. Carter – as one of my professors used to say.
But what about the servants?
What do the servants in this Gospel tell us about being a family of joyful missionary disciples of Jesus Christ? We’re supposed to get busy summoning the invited guests to the banquet. Hmm…have we done that this week? Go…tell those invited…all is ready… What’s that look like? Who are the invited guests?
Some of you have been members of this parish for years. Who used to be in youth group with you, but you haven’t seen at Mass for ages? Who was Confirmed with you – received their First Communion with you – are they among us now? Surely the Catholics we grew up with who have wandered away are among the invited guests we should be summoning to the feast each week. I know it looks like we decided to remodel the dining room on Thanksgiving day in here…but in all the ways that really matter, “everything is ready, come to the feast.” Among your family and friends, who has wandered far from the saving embrace of Holy Mother Church and the Lord Jesus Christ in the sacraments? Who are you thinking of right now? When was the last time you offered to bring them to Mass with you? Surely that’s at least part of what it means to be a joyful missionary disciple of Jesus Christ…
What do the servants in this Gospel tell us about being a family of joyful missionary disciples of Jesus Christ? We need to be about the Master’s business summoning the invited guests and absolutely everyone else to the feast. “Invite to the feast whomever you find…the bad and the good alike…” There are no qualifications for the invitation the servants are called to spread. Race, color, nationality, sexuality, success, background – invite to the feast whomever you find. Intelligence, personality, likability, profession – invite to the feast whomever you find. Married, divorced, divorced and remarried – invite to the feast whomever you find. Criminal, madman, liar, lunatic, leper, outcast, offensively smelly or just as offensively clean and proper and ridiculously polished – invite to the feast whomever you find.
What do we learn from the servants? That joyful missionary disciples of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Eucharist and strengthened by the Sacraments who are eager to live for the spread of the Gospel and the salvation of souls must be busy summoning everyone to the feast! Those who have been invited – former Catholics, lapsed Catholics, fallen away Catholics – and everyone else! “Go out therefore into the main roads, and invite to the feast whomever you find…the good and the bad alike.” Sounds an awful lot like something we’ve been saying for a while: whoever you are, however you are, you are welcome here! In the middle of our construction, and dirt and mess – you are welcome here. All of them – all of you – are welcome here!
Oh – there’s work to when they come to the feast. Guests can’t be caught without being wrapped in a saving love of Jesus that knows, accepts, and freely – freely – conforms their life to the discipline and teaching of the Church. We love one another through that – walk with one another as we get there – serve one another while the Holy Spirit works beyond our obstinance, fear, pride, and hubris, and convicts us to be transformed from the ways and thinking of this dying world to be through, with, and in Christ Jesus. Yes – there’s work to be done once the guests arrive to clothe them in the wedding garment…but if we get too caught up in that before they even make it inside the door we’ve messed it all up.
Joyful missionary disciples of Jesus Christ go about summoning people to the feast. All the people. Calling the wayward back home and seeking out all the rest. Whoever you are, however you are, you are welcome here! And if you can hear the sound of my voice on our new speakers today – you are called to be heralds of this good news! Who did you invite to Mass this weekend? Who will you invite next weekend? Are you doing that? How are you doing that? Will you do that?
“All things are ready – come to the feast!”