I’m not a social man by nature. My privacy is precious to me. The idea of allowing dozens of people to invade my home is enough to send me scurrying for a closet. I’d been convinced at long last that hosting a banquet would be beneficial to my business and my standing in the community. Against my better judgment, I yielded to expedience.
My better judgment was confirmed.
The invitations were sent two months ago to avoid possible conflicts. They couldn’t have been more clear. Guests were to arrive at sundown. Simple. As the sun set, I had everything prepared for the onslaught of nosy neighbors and ravenous relatives.
“Fashionably late” I can understand, but an hour after darkness set in, not a single invitee had appeared. Wanting to give would-be guests the benefit of my growing doubt, I sent my personal assistant to seek out as many as he could find. My instruction to him was to say to each one of them, “Come, for everything is now ready.”
This man is as faithful and industrious as anyone I’ve ever known. I could trust him to follow through. So he did and he was soon back with their responses.
“I have just bought a house, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me,” was the first response he heard. This is a neighbor who had more than enough time to investigate his little transaction. Yet he felt the need to perform his business on the very day I was expecting him for my banquet.
The next excuse was no better. “I have just bought a new car, and I’m on my way to take it for a spin. Please excuse me.” The car will be there tomorrow. This banquet is once in a lifetime.
My own nephew informed my assistant, “I just got married, so I can’t come.” I know he was just married. He must think me a doddering old fool. I was at his wedding! Two weeks ago! How long can he expect that alibi to hold up?
My assistant was preparing to continue, but I stopped him from speaking another word. I could endure no more. Never had I been so insulted in all my life. I was beyond angry. I was fuming. Perhaps my rage can explain my subsequent actions. Nothing else in my experience could.
“Go back,” I told my assistant.
He objected, “But I’ve already spoken to everyone who…”
“No, not to them. I’ve given them their chance. They aren’t worthy of the bounty I’ve laid out. Go to the nursing home. Bring the infirm, the blind, and the disabled to me. Invite everyone in the homeless shelter downtown. Don’t walk the main roads. Take the abandoned back streets and unpaved dark alleys. Find the down and out, the forgotten and neglected. Only they shall be welcome at my feast. Though rejected elsewhere, here they will be guests of honor. They, at least, will appreciate my generosity. They’ll take nothing for granted.”
All my banquet preparation would not be in vain. There would be a banquet, damn it, and my hall will be full of guests. They may not be the guests I’d envisioned, but they’ll be the ones who are supposed to be here. The ones who want to be here.
This is a retelling in modern language of one of Jesus’s parables as retold by Luke, physician, historian, Christ-follower. I love that Jesus values the outcasts of society over the “important” (or self-important) people. He knows the shortchanged ones have little else to rely on. He singles out disabled people. This brings me great comfort. The world would have people look away and ignore the disadvantaged, but as usual, Jesus sees things differently.