Monday, October 10th. Luke 14:15-24

One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’” Luke 14:15-24

 

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

Luke’s version of this banquet story is significantly different than Matthew’s version of the same story (Matthew 22:1-14).  In Luke, “someone” (probably not a king) throws a dinner party (rather than a wedding banquet).  When those invited prove to busy to attend, the host sends his slaves out to the streets to find anyone willing to come.  Luke skips the king’s swift punishment to those who ignore the invitation to attend.

 

This “softening” of the story actually makes it more compelling.  We can more clearly see ourselves in it without the emotional reaction that Matthew elicits.  We’ve been there.

 

We’ve been the ones to issue an invitation only to find that those we wanted to come were too busy.  We’ve been the “too busy” ones who have missed significant events in our lives…only later to discover that we should have made a different choice.  We are the ones who gather in worship, often as aware of the empty seats in the room as we are those who are around us. 

 

And we’re far more likely at such times to wonder “where are they?” rather than look at ourselves and ask “when is the last time I have invited someone to worship?”

 

We hear all that.  And yes, we are too busy today.  Life often feels like we live at the very brink of our capacity to juggle all of the demands placed upon us.  Yup, we plead guilty to that one.  But that still leaves us feeling powerless to do anything about it.

 

The real kicker in this story – from Luke’s point of view – is the social distinctions built into it.  “Someone” is wealthy enough to throw a big party.  Others have a lot going on in their lives because they literally have a lot (land, oxen, newlyweds).  But the rest?  Those hanging out on the side of the road, the poor, the lame, the blind, the crippled, they have plenty of time for a free meal.  They don’t have much clamoring for their attention – except for the daily grind of finding just enough of what they need to live for another day.

 

But “someone” doesn’t care about their social class or whether or not they have anything to bring to the table – “someone” just wants to throw a party.

 

In my ears, this parable challenges my notion that there isn’t anything we can do about being “too busy” for what is truly important in life.  But in the ears of those without, in the ears of those on the side of the road, the poor, the blind, the crippled and the lame, this parable would sound like music.  Someone noticed them.  Someone invited them.  Someone fed them.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, we come to you now at the beginning of yet another busy week.  Help us use our time wisely.  While we are very grateful for all that we have and all that we are able to do, help us keep first things first.  Above all, open our eyes to those we far too often ignore, that we might invite them to your table with us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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