A WORD FROM THE PASTOR
Who Has Time For God's Banquet?
There is not enough time. That is particularly true for today's wives and mothers. A study by Bryn Mawr College in 1920 stated that women devoted more than eighty hours a week to cleaning the house, cooking meals, and taking care of the children. Did things get better? You know the answer to that! Another study fifty years later reported that full-time housewives spent more hours doing laundry in the 1970s than they did in the 1920s, despite all the new washing machines, dryers, detergents, and bleaches. The main change was that the family had acquired more clothing and now had even higher expectations about cleanliness and grooming.
Now in 2023, only a few women can afford to dream of devoting all of their time to their families due to the extraordinary demands of running a home, running an office, a classroom, or a business. Many men have the same problem. That's scary - even scarier - who has time for God's Banquet?
The gospel speaks about an invitation to the kingdom offered to all kinds of people, but only a few of them act upon it in such a way as to be allowed to participate in the banquet of the kingdom. We are the ones who have responded to Jesus' invitation. Actually, God invites everyone, but each of us needs to give God's invitation priority over every other good and important thing in life.
It's not enough just to show up. We must be properly "dressed up." What does it mean? The "wedding garment" refers to true discipleship rather than uncommitted membership. It means that when one freely accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior, he must dedicate his life to Jesus. In other words, a Christian must be clothed in the spirit and teaching of Jesus. He must be clothed in a new purity and a new holiness.
God, through the Church, opens wide his arms to the sinner. The sinner can only accept his invitation by making some effort to repent and change his life to sustain his relationship with God. Hence, it is not enough for one to say, "I believe," and then simply continue to live life in his accustomed sinful ways. Although Jesus accepted the tax collectors and prostitutes, he demanded that they abandon their evil ways ("Go, and sin no more!" - Jn 8:11).
In his Letter to the Colossians, Paul directs his converts, "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony" (Col 3:12-14). The picture is very clear: the wedding garments God wants us to don are woven with acts of faith, love, hope, kindness, compassion, humility, patience, meekness, truth, and holiness.
When John F. Kennedy was president of the United States, he invited a number of accomplished artists to a White House banquet. Among those invited was the then aging William Faulkner. He was an American writer from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner worked in a variety of media writing novels, short stories, a play, poetry, essays and screenplays. Faulkner turned down the invitation, saying, "I'm too old to make new friends."
It is possible, you know, to turn down an invitation, even from the President. It is thinkable to do the unthinkable, to excuse yourself from a fabulous opportunity. We are invited to the endless joy of the Heavenly Banquet. If, in our preoccupation with passing time-tied pleasures and duties, we refuse this invitation, our greatest pain after our death will be the realization of the precious things we have forfeited.