Marriage announcement between Dauphin Louis (future Louis XVI) and Marie Antoinette of Austria, from 1770,
© Versailles Library Archives
There was a man who invited a large number of people
One of those gathered round the table said to Jesus, ‘Happy the man who will be at the feast in the kingdom of God!’ But he said to him, ‘There was a man who gave a great banquet, and he invited a large number of people. When the time for the banquet came, he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, “Come along: everything is ready now.” But all alike started to make excuses. The first said, “I have bought a piece of land and must go and see it. Please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them out. Please accept my apologies.” Yet another said, “I have just got married and so am unable to come.”
‘The servant returned and reported this to his master. Then the householder, in a rage, said to his servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” “Sir” said the servant “your orders have been carried out and there is still room.” Then the master said to his servant, “Go to the open roads and the hedgerows and force people to come in to make sure my house is full; because, I tell you, not one of those who were invited shall have a taste of my banquet.”’
Reflection on the print invitation
In the gospels, especially in Luke’s gospel, Jesus is very often found at table--a gathering place for family, friends, and also where important business can be discussed. In our Gospel reading today Jesus is guest at a meal hosted by a leading Pharisee at which other Pharisees and experts in the Jewish law were present. One of the guests utters a beatitude, ‘Happy the man who will be at the feast in the kingdom of God!’. Jesus replies by speaking a parable. Whereas the beatitude refers to a great feast in the future, Jesus’ parable is about a feast to which invitations have already been sent out! Jesus shifts the focus of people’s attention from the future to the present. The invitations have already gone out. How will we respond?
And these invitations have gone out to everyone… even those who usually never get invited to nothing.
The parable is a reminder for us to be attentive to the Lord’s invitation in the present moment and not to push our response into the future (‘Oh, one day I will do that’; ‘When this current situation is sorted out, then I will give the Lord my time…’).
Our artwork today is a marriage announcement and invitation to the wedding of Dauphin Louis (future Louis XVI) and Marie Antoinette of Austria, from 1770. The arranged marriage sealed the alliance between France and Austria, two countries that used to be rivals and enemies. The invitation we get from God is incalculably more lavish and generous than any royal feast we can be invited to. Jesus is asking in today's reading for us to accept the invitation, and simply respond 'yes'.
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