Jesus’ story may seem a bit far-fetched. Who would be so crazy as to turn down an invitation to a royal wedding? But people can be very foolish. There is a streak in us that not only refuses the good, but can’t even recognize it. God is continually calling us, as individuals and a community, to a deeper and more authentic life. But, alas, this precious invitation is like the seed that fell among the thorns. It gets choked. A brief look at our lives will show how this happens. There is that letter I know I should write, but just now I’m not in the mood. There is that sick person I know I should visit, but right now my favorite program is on television. I know I need to pray, but I just don’t seem to be able to find time for it. I know I should make an effort to get to Mass on time or just to get to Mass, but something always gets in the way. I know I should be more charitable, but I just can’t summon up the will to make the effort. I know that dishonesty is wrong, but I tell myself that everybody does it, and what I do is minor compared to what others are up to. I know I don’t do my job as well as I should, but why should I break my back when others aren’t pulling their weight? I know I drink too much, but I’m under a lot of pressure these days. I know I should spend more time with my children, but I need that overtime money.
One could go on. Each of us, if we got down to it, could draw up quite a long list of things which we know, in our heart of hearts, we should do, or should not do, but which we refuse to look at. And we have no shortage of excuses. They spring up to our defense like over-enthusiastic security guards.
The excuses that kept the invited guests from attending the wedding feast, weren’t all bad. In fact, in most cases they were perfectly good ones: one man wanted to attend to his land, another to his business, and so on. But this is precisely what makes them so dangerous. We don’t see them as posing a threat.
The greatest danger facing us is not that we might abandon God and turn to evil, but rather that we might just ignore his invitation. To ignore God’s invitation altogether is the worst form of refusal. It implies indifference. Indifferent people are the hardest to convert.
We are invited not merely as individuals but as a community. It is the banquet of the new People of God, namely, the Christian community. The invitation challenges us to give up our isolationism, our exclusivism, our self-sufficiency. To accept means to admit our need and willingness to receive from others, to share with others, to associate with others, and to collaborate with others. We don’t have to earn our place at the banquet. We are invited.