When we receive an invitation to a banquet, the first thing most of us do is to quickly look at who sent the invitation. We do this before we even look to see if we are available at the time for the banquet. We do this because, if we consider the person who has invited us to be important enough, even if we are busy that night, we will likely find a way to attend the banquet. If we don’t like the person, or don’t even know if we know the person, even if we are available, chances are we won’t attend the banquet. Every now and then, especially if we are wanting to enjoy a night out, even if we don’t like the person who invited us, we might casually plan to attend the banquet, always sure to leave ‘a way out’ in case something else comes up in our schedule.
You may not appreciate this assessment, but if we are honest, each one of us has gone through this exact thing with at least one invitation in our life. We may even ultimately show regret at the way we acted, and ultimately want to attend the banquet, but unfortunately RSVP’s were due last week and the caterer already has confirmed the food. NOW we’re stuck outside the banquet wanting to enter. “Sorry! You’re too late! There are no last minute seats available at the banquet.”
In today’s Gospel, we hear about a man who held such a banquet. According to the Gospel, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are now ready.' But they all with one accord began to make excuses.” (Luke 14.16-18) So the man did what any of us would have done. He went out and found other people to attend the banquet. He said to his servants, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.” (Luke 14.23-24)
As the Feast of Christmas quickly approaches, it would do us good to remember that WE have been invited to THE BANQUET OF BANQUETS, and the host isn’t just some stranger we don’t even remember. Will we RSVP to God and attend the banquet, or will we make excuses like the crowd in today’s Gospel? Will we leave ourselves ‘a way out’ in case something ‘better comes along’ so we are free to change our plans? What could be worse than showing up at the last minute to find there was no place for us at God’s Table?
Thankfully, there is always room at His Table when we accept His invitation. Make plans NOW to attend Christmas Liturgy, and join God at THE BANQUET, the Divine Liturgy. There will be time for other things another day. When God invites us, we should want to accept, and have no regrets.