Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi (Second after Pentecost)—22 June AD 2014
“None of these men that were invited shall taste of my supper.”
Probably everyone has had the distasteful experience of planning a party, going to a lot of effort to make things right, spent money on food and drink, maybe even buying decorations--and then, at the last minute the people whom you expected to attend begin to call on the phone to say that they cannot come. The reasons may be good, but to you, the party-giver, they all sound a bit hollow. The only thing that can make the situation worse is when the few guests do arrive, they are looking around, trying to figure out why the room is so empty.
I suppose that we feel bad in proportion to the effort we have put into preparing for the party. It wouldn't seem so bad if our preparations went to no more than a few cans of soda, that could be easily put back into the refrigerator and used sometime later.
But think about Who it is that proposes this parable to us today: It is none other than Jesus Christ. And the supper He describes can be thought of as one of three things, all very important! We can think of the supper figuratively, and understand that He is talking about His Church. His preparations for this supper are immense! The second Person of the blessed Trinity deigned to take human form, and put up with all that human life involved in a relatively primitive culture, as a member of a relatively poor family. Then He spent three years of His life walking about the countryside to explain what it meant to be His follower, often incurring the scorn and hatred of those in authority. And, at the end of those three years He gave Himself over to those who viewed Him as a threat to their privileged position and allowed Himself to die the painful and shameful death of the Cross. After all this, there are still many who refuse His invitation.
He was the promised Savior of the Jewish people. But many of them were looking for a political Messias, one who would take up the sword, beat off the Romans, and restore the Kingdom of Israel. Like the people in the parable, there were many who were more interested in material prosperity—the farm and what its animals could provide--then in following this penniless preacher who "had not a place to lay His head." Certainly, He encountered many who were not keen on leaving their homes, their wives, their children, and their lands with no tangible reward in sight.
The fellow who had just married a wife was doing nothing wrong--marriage is, after all, a holy institution of God Himself. But certainly, family involvement should net keep anyone out of Holy Mother Church. That is but one of the reasons why single people should pay careful attention to the religion of anyone whom they date. Ideally, the man in the parable should have said that he wanted to bring his wife along with him!
We can also view the supper of Christ, quite appropriately, as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Each and every Catholic has a standing invitation to Holy Mass each and every time it is offered. We are daily invited to the Eucharistic banquet of Holy Communion. The Invitation to Holy Mass becomes a little more insistent on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation. If at all possible, we will arrange our lives so that we will not have to work on Sundays and Holy Days, and so that we can fit Holy Mass into our weekday schedule frequently. Having to go out and “work the farm” like the man in the parable ought not to be allowed to interfere with our invitation to the Lord's Supper. And, those who marry, ought to be sure that it is a holy marriage, pleasing to God, and marked by utmost fidelity.
And, let me be perfectly clear that our invitation includes daily Mass. Much of our world is filled with religious persecution—there is no guarantee that the Mass will always be available to us—so take advantage of the opportunity while it is available.
Finally, we can think of this parable about the dinner party being about an invitation to eternity in heaven. Perhaps I am being redundant here, for membership in Christ's Church, attendance at Holy Mass, and frequent reception of Holy Communion are among the most important indicators of this most important of invitations. But we should always be aware of all of the aspects of our Catholic Faith, being careful to practice all of them. The Epistle today hints at the necessity of performing the corporal works of mercy for those in need—and let us not forget the spiritual needs of those around us.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has taken great pains (literally!) that we might have this invitation to His eternal table. Let us be sure that we do nothing to turn down His invitation. Let us not disappoint the One who gave His life for us and wants but our friendship in return.