How will we Respond to Christ's Invitation
How Will We Respond to Christ's Invitation?
Fr Luke A Veronis
“Blessed is the one who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” Think about this statement. “Blessed is the one who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” Blessed is the one who will be with the Lord for all eternity. Blessed is the one who will be honored to sit as a VIP guest at the same table as our Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who Christ will say, “Come, you good and faithful servant, and inherit what has been prepared for you since the beginning of time.”
How many of us would think this is a truly a special blessing? As we journey through this mystery of life here and now, do we truly desire this blessing of “eating bread in the kingdom of God?” To not only dine with the Lord, but to accept His invitation and to live with Him and to abide in His heavenly kingdom?
Jesus proclaimed “Seek first the kingdom of heaven” and today He says, “Blessed is the one who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”
Yet in today’s Gospel story, our Lord highlights how many of us will respond to His invitation to the Mystical and Heavenly Banquet. Too many of us are preoccupied with the cares of this world, with all the activities and demands and pleasures of our daily lives to give much attention to His divine invitation.
One says “I am too busy with my work. I can’t get away from my business. You know how demanding my profession is. I have important things to do and here lies my priority. Sorry I can’t break away from my busy schedule to attend any feast, even if it’s a heavenly feast.”
For too many people, our work and profession stand above all else, and we relegate God’s invitation to His mystical feast as secondary.
Another one focuses on his possessions; maybe he has some new “toys” he must attend to. He is caught up in his material possessions, or maybe his hobbies and habits of entertainment that take precedence over God’s invitation. Doesn’t that well represent today’s spirit for many people?
A third invited guest to the heavenly banquet offers a pretty reasonable excuse – he just got married and has to attend to his own bride. This represents the priority of family. Many will defend this reasoning because how many say that family is the most important thing in our lives. We’ll do anything for family!
And yet, didn’t Christ warn us that if we love family more than Him, if we place family above our pursuit for the kingdom of God, then we are not worthy of Him! The King’s invitation to His Mystical Banquet comes before even our beloved family commitments!
Work. Possessions. Hobbies and Entertainment. Family. Each one of these demand our attention and demand, and more often than not we prioritize them first in our lives.Yet today, we hear the Gospel offer a different vision of what life is all about. “Blessed is the one who eats bread in the Kingdom of God.” We are invited to embrace a vision and worldview where we are invited as VIP guests to the eternal, heavenly banquet, to eat and drink and dwell with our Creator and Lord. Yet, the question for today is how do we respond to such an invitation? What worldview does our life reflect and what do we prioritize in our lives?
The Psalmist declares, “One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord.” (Psalm 27:4) Is this the one thing that we ask for in our lives? Or are our prayers filled with so many other requests and our lives are focused on so many other priorities that come well before our desire to “live in the house of the Lord and to behold His beauty?”
There are so many images throughout Holy Scripture which reflect this divine invitation to live with the Lord and behold His beauty. Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with them and they with me.”
Do we hear His knock? How are we responding to His invitation to the Divine banquet?
Jesus says, “I have come to give you life and to give it to you abundantly.” And yet, do we believe in this abundant life in Christ and will we accept His offer?
Saint Paul reminds us that “God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” and yet, do we seek after the riches that our Lord offers us?
As we journey through the Christmas season and get so busy with all the festivities and preparations, I think of the people in Bethlehem who were so busy that they ignored making room for Joseph and the Virgin Mary and the Christ child. They didn’t realize that the Christ was to be born in their midst because they were so preoccupied with the demands of life. They didn’t know.
For us, however, Jesus offers a concrete invitation. He tells us “You are invited as my guest into the heavenly banquet. Come and enter into the joy of my celebration. Come and enjoy the feast of my banquet hall. Every Sunday and every time we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, our Lord invites us to come, “taste and see how good the Lord is.” We can be united with Christ through His Mystical Supper, through receiving His Body and Blood through Holy Communion.
Sometimes we respond and come. Sometimes we partake, when it’s convenient for us. Yet, how often do we show up half-hearted? How often to we walk in late and inattentive? How often do we find excuses to sleep in, or we prioritize something else.
Today’s Gospel lesson isn’t about making us feel guilty about ignoring our Lord’s invitation to His mystical and heavenly banquet. It is, however, about making us aware that God offers us a precious gift, a special invitation as a VIP guest, to partake of the feastday of life, of true, eternal life, and to dwell with Him. How do we respond because how we respond will clearly reflect what we prioritize in our lives.
The wedding is set. Think about all the time and effort put in for a once-in-a-lifetime wedding. Much thought was given to the guest list. Every detail was taken into account for the wedding celebration. Everything is beautiful and prepared, and the day has arrived. What happens if the special guests invited don’t show up? How will you feel if they rsvped about coming and then on the day of the wedding they made excuses. They’re too busy. They have to work. They’re too preoccupied with their hobbies and entertainment. They have family obligations.
Blessed are the ones who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God. We are all invited. But how will we respond?
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