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(Part 44)


November 5, 2013
Today’s gospel: Luke 14:15-24

What is the purpose of our work of evangelization and mission? It is for people to hear the gospel and thus meet and know Christ, thence to live Christ and share Christ. This is the way to salvation, which Jesus won on the cross for us. To love and serve God is the way to heaven, which is the ultimate blessing. “Blessed is the one who will dine in the kingdom of God.” (Lk 14:15). How can this happen? Jesus gave the parable of the great feast.

What are basic realities about God and salvation?

  • God wants many if not all to be saved. “A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many.” (Lk 14:16).
  • God’s desire for people to be saved is intense. After all, God did give up His very own Son to win for us our salvation. Thus, informed that those invited had excuses for not going to the banquet, “the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant” (Lk 14:21a) to gather others.
  • God wants to His home filled. “The master then ordered the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled.” (Lk 14:23).

Now God is determined that people be saved. That after all is what salvation in Jesus is all about. Notice the progression how the master invited people. First, “he dispatched his servant” with a simple invitation: “Come, everything is now ready.” (Lk 14:17). Second, he “commanded his servant” to “bring in” the people (Lk 14:21b). Finally, “the master then ordered the servant” to “make people come in” (Lk 14:23a). Why? God wants “that my home may be filled.” (Lk 14:23b).

Unfortunately, much as God is dying (pun intended) to save us and to bring us to heaven, He does not force us. He issues the invitation, He sends out His servant, He goes to extremes to have them go to the banquet, but at the end of the day, it depends on us, it is our decision. Not counting those who have succumbed to the world, the flesh or the devil, many have very good excuses for not going. The best excuses are livelihood and family (does that hit close to home?). One “just purchased a field and must go to examine it” (Lk 14:18b). Another “purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them” (Lk 14:19a). Well, if one purchases something, one should make sure that that something is there, and with the right value paid for. Another “just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.” (Lk 14:20). It would not be right to leave your bride at the altar or to forego the honeymoon.

Is God unreasonable? This of course is a parable, and God is not against prudence in business or investments, or giving priority to marriage and family. But precisely, that Jesus used those things most important to us--family and livelihood--shows that the invitation to the Kingdom is the greatest of all. It is not a question of choosing between sin or God. That is elementary. It is a question of choosing between the good and the best.[1] It is an instance of recognizing the greater, nay the greatest, priority. Do you understand now why Jesus says you must hate[2] your closest relatives to be worthy to be his disciple?[3]

God persists and insists on bringing us to heaven. It is only we who stand in the way. We come up with excuses not to accept God’s invitation. “But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves.” (Lk 14:18a). And notice that those invited, knowing they had legitimate excuses, did not ask, “May I be excused?” They simple excused themselves! “I ask you, consider me excused.” (Lk 14:18c,19b). Their asking was a statement of a decision already made.

When we decide to forgo a household meeting or a community activity or service or giving money to the community because we have something to do with the family or to attend to our business, do we actually seek God’s will, starting off with giving Him the priority, and then trying to “argue” from that point why we should be excused? Or do we just decide to excuse ourselves, simply because we believe we have a good reason?

Now there are three personages in this parable: the master, the servant, and those invited. Let us look at the servant. It is he who is sent by the master to invite or to gather people. That is now we, not as those invited (we already accepted)[4] but as those who are the servants, that is, the evangelizers. In our work of evangelization, in the call for each CFC-FFL member to become an evangelizer, we must know some important realities.

First, as the Master sends us, do we go? The final marching order was given by Jesus before he ascended into heaven. God is entrusting the continuation of His divine work to us. God rarely intervenes directly in converting someone, just as He did with Saul, but rather, God works through us. God has made Himself and the outcome of His plan dependent on His people. Are we too busy with family and livelihood to respond? Are the very blessings of God what are preventing us from responding?

Second, do we report to the Master (Lk 14:21a,22a)? When we seem to fail in our evangelization, when our evangelization stalls and those invited do not respond, do we bring the matter to Jesus, and pray intently that he show us the way, that he give us further instructions?

Third, do we look to rapid and massive evangelization? The master told his servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town” (Lk 14:21c). “Go out to the highways and hedgerows” (Lk 14:23a). Knowing our marching orders, are we responding quickly, rapidly? Are we combing every nook and cranny in every neighborhood, in every town, in every province, in every nation?

Fourth, do we recognize the urgency of and great need for our mission. “Go out quickly .... and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.” (Lk 14:21c). People without or lacking God are the poorest. Such people are crippled, moving along with earthly crutches when they could be leaping with joy. Such people are blind, not appreciating the sacrifice of Jesus, not seeing the beauty of God and His Kingdom in heaven. Such people are lame, unable to walk briskly in their pilgrimage to heaven.

Fifth, do we share God’s passion for saving the lost and helping bring them to heaven? Do we say to Jesus, after all the hard work we have done, “Sir, your orders have been carried out and still there is room.” (Lk 14:22). Do we want to fill heaven with souls? Do we want no one left behind? Do our hearts bleed for those who fail to respond fully to the gospel? Do we grieve when we hear Jesus say, “For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.” (Lk 14:24).

It will be a great feast in heaven. Would you not want your relative, friend, neighbor, co-worker, and even the stranger or your enemy, to taste the dinner that you will be tasting? Then go and evangelize.

Onward to the New Evangelization!

* * *

[1] God actually wants us to choose both. But the point here is that, between two good things, what should clearly be the greater good?
[2] In Semitic usage, “to hate” means “to love less.”
[3] See tomorrow’s gospel reading.
[4] We have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, but we often still prioritize family and work over the Master and His invitation (events intended to bring us closer to God and to grow in holiness).

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