Despite reading and loving Sacred Scripture and being familiar with the wealth of the Word, I’m amazed every day that I get led to see something that I have not noticed before. The Gospel for today starts with one of Luke’s ‘Disastrous dinner parties’ (cf Nick King) where a guest shouts out an acclamation, maybe even a familiar or ritual saying to Jesus – ‘Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the Kingdom of Heaven’ and Jesus ruins the moment by telling a story… Sometimes, it must have been quite tough having Our Lord as a meal guest.
The story is about a rich person inviting other rich persons to a banquet – something only the rich can do. Yet, the invitation is rejected. What struck me in this familiar scenario is that those who reject the invitation do so because they are rich – landowners, owners of livestock (5 yoke of oxen is like owning a Lamborghini – or at least a huge tractor) and those who have ‘taken a wife’.
Contrast this with the streets and lanes of the city – no spaciousness here – where the understandably upset host now sends the servants. To the poor, the maimed, blind and lame.Those who work on the land – if they can – and those who cannot work.
Reading this with the initial exclamation is to see that the Bread of the Kingdom of God is the bread of the poor, the lame, the maimed and blind, – and that is blessedness. Read with the Gospel of this past Sunday (Matthew’s Beatitudes on the transferred Feast of All Saints) reinforces that the arrogant self sufficiency that willingly excludes self from the Banquet also excludes self from the Blessedness in this life.
The Scene in the story changes once again – with the host demanding that the hall be filled. I’ve not noticed before that the word used is ‘compel’. Wow. The urgency of that is to fill a banquet so that there is no space for those who change their mind and wish to come in – the response will simply be – the banquet is full. I’m not sure how I feel about this – is there no choice to get in on a mind change? Or is the mind change possibly to admit that you and I can only experience the blessedness of the Kingdom Banquet if we admit that we are poor, maimed, blind and lame.
What a challenge to our Eucharist and our lives.
(Scripture version used – Revised Standard Version 2nd Catholic Edition)