Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Second Sunday after Trinity

The Gospel from the St. Luke 14:16-24 is one of several parables about the Messianic feast or banquet. The host invited many people and prepared a great meal, but when it was time for the party, the invitees started coming up with excuses. Their excuses were not implausible; they reflected important things that can come up in life. However, central points are that those first invited did not appreciate what they were offered and that they did not respect their host. The parable warns that people with such priorities will be excluded and that the host will have his servants go out into the streets to invite all sorts of people to the feast.

Of course, we can look at this parable in terms of the New Testament period where we see two distinct applications. 1) The first invitees can be seen as the observant Jews of various perspectives who did not accept Jesus while many less reputable Jews responded to His ministry. 2) The first invitees can be seen as the majority of the Jewish people who did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah while many Gentiles accepted Him and His Gospel and streamed into the Church.

A similar dynamic can be seen throughout church history. There is a tendency for many people with good religious backgrounds to fail to appreciate what God offers in Christ and to make excuses while many people of less desirable backgrounds are moved to come into the Church and enjoy the spiritual feast. In our time more than ever, some people from respectable Christian backgrounds do not appreciate what they are offered while some people who have pagan or secular backgrounds respond to the Gospel with an active faith and commitment.

Regardless of our personal backgrounds, we all need to consider God's invitation. Our Lord offers us the great feast of living in His presence forever. We must not take His offer for granted; we must not allow other things in life- no matter how legitimate those things may be in themselves- to distract us from what God offers. As in our parable, work and family can be laudable pursuits, but they are not more important than God's invitation to come to Him and enjoy His spiritual fellowship. Among all the things that are part of life, there are many that are good, but God's call must always be our first priority.

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