Summer is a time when we receive lots of invitations. Invitations to graduations, weddings, barbecues, picnics, trips to the beach, Disneyland, baseball games and concerts, to name a few. In the Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about invitations. The parable counsels those who are invited to a banquet to take the most lowly places first, rather than rushing to the head of the table. It also advises that invitations be sent beyond our comfortable circles of family and friends to those who perhaps are neglected or in need of care (Luke 14:1-14).
The parable is a reminder that everyday Jesus invites us to join him at the banquet of our lives now and at the heavenly banquet in the future. It might help us to know how to respond to this invitation of Jesus by reflecting on some good practices in responding to other invitations we receive in our lives.
After receiving an invitation, the first step is to RSVP, indicating whether or not we can participate. We need to do the same with Jesus. Check in with him everyday. Let him know how we are doing. Tell him what we can and cannot do. Thank him for our current blessings and ask for his help where it is needed.
A wonderful practice in accepting an invitation is to bring a small gift to whoever is hosting us, like a modest bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine or some nice olive oil. In facing each day, it is a good practice to ask what we can bring to others that day. What are the gifts that we bring to the table? Life in Jesus is about participating, not sitting on the sidelines complaining about family members, co-workers, society or the Church. Life is not a fishbowl that we watch from the outside. It is full immersion in the mission of filling the world with the Lord’s love.
Another fine custom after enjoying somebody else’s hospitality is to send them a thank you note. We can send Jesus thank you notes too, thanking him every day for inviting us to participate in his life and love. Along with this attitude of gratitude goes letting go of regret or resentment over invitations that we never got, or jealousy toward those who got them instead. We have a daily invitation to join Jesus and each other at the banquet of life. Let’s remember to RSVP.
Together in faith,
Fr. Christopher Smith, Rector