Greg and Madge had everything ready for the wedding feast of their daughter. Invitations had been sent long before, but one by one, the replies came with excuses. Daniel and his wife were travelling. James and Susan had a sick child. Peter and Ruth were getting their new car on that day... Madge was so sad, she started crying. For his part, Greg was so angry he shouted: “If those people don’t want to join the feast, others will be happy to do so.” He went to the Centre for refugees and invited all those staying there. The celebration could start, there was plenty of people to take part.
What Madge and Greg experienced is very similar to what we read in today’s gospel. God’s message today in Jesus’ words is about guests invited and not responding to the invitation. Of course, we must understand that Jesus meant more than the invitation to a wedding. He wants us to realise that God sends different kinds of invitation to us.
The greatest invitation is the call to become his children. At birth, God gives us life but he wants us to share in his own life which we receive in Baptism. He invites us also to grow in friendship with him by speaking with him every day in prayer. He invites us also to share in the food that will make our friendship with him grow stronger in receiving the Eucharist.
Jesus speaks other words of invitation, as he tells us: “Learn from me.” He wants us to follow his example, taking on his ways so we may become more like him. He invites us to trust God our Father for all our needs. He tells us: “Look at the birds of the air... look at the flowers in the field...” If God cares for them, he cannot fail to care for us, much more so.
All those are invitations to us from God. And every day he sends us smaller ones too. A person in need comes to ask for my help, a stranger asks for information, an old person asks for assistance, a friend asks me to go with her to the hospital. All these, and many more, are invitations from God - invitations that call for a response requiring that I do something.
What kind of a response do I give to God? Is my response like that of the people in the parable of Jesus? Am I too busy with other things? Too concerned with my own occupations to bother about God’s message? Of the people in Jesus’ story we are told: “They were not interested.” Is this what happens to me sometimes? God invites me but... I am not interested just now... Later, perhaps... Just now my thoughts are somewhere else, my efforts are given to other things. Yet, God’s invitation remains. The prophet Isaiah has described the feast God prepares for us in words that we can all understand. He speaks of: “A banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wine.”
It is a feast where there will be no sadness or mourning: “The Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek... He will destroy Death for ever.” Isaiah explains that the feast God has prepared for us is not a celebration of a few days only. It will be an eternal celebration, a feast that will last for ever – the feast of heaven. The invitation to heaven! Is there anyone among us who would want to miss it?