Who Do You Invite to the Banquet?
A leading Pharisee invited Jesus to dine at his home, and he told his host and other guests a parable about an invitation to a wedding banquet. Jesus took a moment to throw light on the virtue of humility and charity as essential to Christian living and contrary to the egoism on display by other invitees to the dinner seeking to occupy places of honor at the table. At the same time, Jesus told his host to "invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind" to his banquet (Lk 14:13). The "unworthy" ones should receive more attention than family and friends who are in a position to repay the host quickly. Inviting the "unworthy" to the banquet will invite divine reward (Lk 14:14).
One way of understanding the wedding banquet is to see it as symbolic of the church gathered around the Eucharistic table of the Lord. Who do we invite to the Eucharistic banquet? Who do we invite to church? Who do we ask to "approach Mount Zion and the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countess angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven" (Heb 12: 22-23)? We should invite all and any "unworthy" to the community gathered for the sacred banquet. Asking others to come to mass and church is evangelization's work. Jesus wants us to step out of our familiar comfort zone to extend an invitation to those we may consider "unclean" or "unworthy." For example, according to the old covenant law, the disabled, the lame, and the blind are considered ritually impure and unfit to fellowship at the table (Lev 21:18). However, Jesus is changing this demand of the Old Law. In the new covenant, Jesus establishes the priority of love and grace. He wants us to reach out to those outside the body, inviting them to receive nourishment and grace from the sacred table.
Jesus invites the spiritually lame or blind to come to join the banquet. We have to see this in light of evangelization. Have we asked someone not considered liturgically "worthy" to go with us to mass? Even if they are not yet in the proper state to share the sacred meal with us, they can sit around the table with us and still experience divine nourishment from the table of the Word.
I want to say a big thank you to all members of our parish who put in a significant shift at the CCW and Men's Club pavilions at the Elizabethtown Fair this past week. In some regard, you were doing the work of evangelization on behalf of our parish, and only God can reward you adequately. Let's continue to display the attitude of sacrifice and giving as we prepare for our parish picnic in September. We should invite someone, especially parish members, to attend this massive banquet of love and unity.
Fr. Bernard, OP