Tuesday, November 07, 2006

31st Tuesday in Ordinary Time (II)
The Paschal Banquet in the Here and Now

Readings: Philippians 2:5-11; Psalm 22:26b-27, 28-30ab, 30e, 31-32; Luke 14:15-24

It’s easy to frown upon the guests initially invited to the banquet in today’s gospel. Such an important social occasion and they blow it off. They make excuses –excuses that don’t even sound very convincing – at least not to these ears. I can’t come because I need to try out my new oxen?! Isn’t it really a matter of priorities? The new oxen won’t run away, nor will the land disappear. Leave them. If these potential guests had even a modicum of common courtesy they’d come to the banquet!

Yet when one looks through this gospel scene, as one would a lens, at the situation in which many of us find ourselves, doesn’t it become at least a little more understandable that those invited guests should give excuses? Isn’t our own society the epitome of what it means to be busy? We have so many things to do. Businesses, cars, or groceries might take the place of oxen, and condos that of the land. We probably don’t intend to be rude. Still, given all that we have to do, isn’t it all too tempting to blow off an invitation to the banquet?

Also there’s probably more to this tendency than the lack of time, isn’t there? Isn’t it also a question of not really hearing and recognizing the invitation when it is issued? For example, we might tend to think of this banquet as either having taken place when Christ first came among us two thousand years ago. Or we may look forward to His second coming at the end of time. But what of the daily coming of Christ at each moment of our lives? Could it be that the banquet to which we’re being invited is actually taking place here and now?

What is this banquet, we might wonder? In whatever concrete form it might take, could it be that the dying and rising of Christ described in the first reading is actually taking place here and now? And could we somehow be invited to participate in it? Indeed it may, at first, neither look nor feel like a banquet, or any kind of celebration. But could this be another reason why we tend to miss out: we don’t recognize it when it is presented to us. We are too busy looking somewhere and for something else.

Where is Christ dying and rising in our lives today?

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