I am too busy, I cannot come - Twenty eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > I am too busy, I cannot come - Twenty eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

The Gospel begins with the words, “The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared…” A consistent theme in the teaching of Jesus is that of the Kingdom of Heaven. He began his preaching with the announcement: “The Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand”. He presented a whole series of parables describing the nature of the Kingdom – they invariably began with the words, “the Kingdom of Heaven is like … a mustard seed, leaven in the dough, a treasure in a field, and so on.

This parable is not describing some aspect of the nature of the Kingdom as rather talking about people’s response to the invitation to enter the Kingdom. The Lord uses an image that his hearers would readily understand – a king issues invitations to attend the wedding banquet of his son. This invitation would have been seen as an honour as we would be honoured to be invited to a dinner with the Governor or the Premier, or perhaps the Archbishop.

The venue would have been beautiful, the food excellent and presumably the company interesting. There is clearly in prospect a good event and a wonderful experience. This was captured in the first reading where the banquet was described as providing rich food and fine wines.

The first guests to be invited would have been what we call today the “A list”. They would have been those in the inner circle of the king, those people who were people of note. In the parable we learn that they all refuse.

Then the king turns to the “B list”. No doubt these are suitable people but at the second rung of importance. He even seeks to entice them with the words, “I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding”. But we learn that these people have other interests and decline the offer.

Finally, determined to have guests at this son’s wedding banquet, the king tells his servants to go to out on to highways and byways and invite anyone that they can find.

Now, there is clearly a message here for his listeners whom we are told were the chief priests and elders of the people – those who would consider themselves “A list” people. This was what was happening during the public ministry of Jesus – the religious elite were not responding to his teaching, but as the Gospels tell us it was “the tax collectors and the prostitutes” who were responding to him. The ordinary folk were becoming his disciples. They, Jesus says, will be the ones who will participate in the banquet while the “A list” people will miss out.

What relevance can be attach to this parable for us today? I would like to propose one line of thought and I would like to focus on those I have called the “B list” people.

We notice that the “B list” people all had what they considered quite legitimate reasons for not accepting the invitation: they had work to do on the farm, or various business commitments, and some were actually violent towards the servants who brought the invitation.

An invitation is being made to each of us. This invitation of the Lord is not just in terms of a future in heaven, but it is an invitation to enter more and more deeply into the life of the Kingdom even now. It is an invitation to pursue the path to holiness, to enter more deeply in the ways of prayer, to positively seek a life of virtue, to conform our minds more to the ways of God. There may be quite personal ways in which the Lord is calling each of us.

But we may well be like those “B list” people who were too busy with other matters. And, I know, life is busy and there are many important things we need to do.

However, let us ask ourselves some honest questions:
• Do I devote some time each day to personal prayer?
• Could I read Scripture on a regular basis?
• Could I go on a retreat at least once a year?
• Could I commit to Mass during the week?
• Could I decide to regularly use the Sacrament of Penance?
• Could I join a prayer group or a Scripture discussion group which would foster my faith?
• Could I join a Catholic association like Catholic Women’s League, Legion of Mary, St Vincent de Paul, Knights of Southern Cross?

And the list could go on.
The question is: are we too busy to pursue a deeper life in the Kingdom of God? And so could we find ourselves embarrassed when asked about our willingness to respond to the invitations of the Lord.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us seek the Lord in earnestness of heart. Let us desire a deeper relationship with Christ. Let us give more of ourselves to the Lord.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Saturday, 11 October 2014