Commentary on the Gospel of

Joan Blandin Howard-Creighton University's Retired Community

I have an inkling about how “the man” may have felt.  Once, we planned what we thought would be a lovely garden party.  I planned a variety of fruits, vegetables, small sandwiches, dips and delicacies, making sure I had considered food allergies and diets. Calculated what we would need in the way of furniture. Corralled some grandchildren to help set up, serve and clean up.  I knew the kids and our friends would enjoy each other.  The weather was forecasted to be made to order for a spring afternoon. I anticipated it would be a perfect gathering of friends, family and neighbors.

Then, one by one they began to call.  One had a sick child, the other a water leak, the next an unexpected out-of-town guest.  It seemed an unless stream of cancellations.  All with regrets and good excuses.  So much planning, so looking forward to entertaining our friends. I felt disappointment, while he felt “rage.”

What to do?  I put on a pleasant disposition and attended to the small number guests who did come.  We had a very nice gathering.

What did “the man” do?  When he, “master of the house, was notified about all the cancellations, …in a rage commanded his servant, “Go out quicky into the street and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor, and the crippled, the blind and the lame.” There was still room for more.  …the master… then ordered the servant, Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled”. 

This seems pretty extreme to me.  “rage (and)…make people come…” It never crossed my mind to invite the poor, blind, crippled and lame.  Did I even know such needy, unfortunate people? 

In this time of the COVID 19 and the anger and frustration surrounding racial prejudice and civil unrest, who would Jesus invite to a festive gathering if his invited friends were not able to attend?  Looking back, who would I like to think I would have invited?

When my mother was in her final years and dealing with senile dementia, we had several delightful, compassionate and caring women come to assist in her care.  One was a very dark skinned African-American, another a young woman from the Philippines, and another one from a very poor neighborhood in our city.  I ask myself today, why did I not think to invite these women when others could not come?   Why did I not think to invite them initially?

I considered them friends, but apparently not friends enough to be invited to a gathering with  other friends.  Frequently I have thought about this.  This time of COVID 19 and civil unrest has made me consider my prejudices – those I can identify and those attitudes I have never before considered to be prejudices. Considering these, I can identify some originating in my family of origin.  Others I have acquired over the years.  Many I never realized or owned as prejudices.  I never considered that unintentionally I was hurting, disrespecting and disregarding others.  I did not take the time or the initiative to befriend certain others when I easily could have.  Possibly initiating meaningful relationships.

Maybe we are well off not to “taste (the man’s) dinner”. Our God does not fly into a rage when we don’t respond as God would have wished. Our God continues to invite all of us over and over and over again.  Our God is delighted when we run out of excuses for sending our regrets.  Our God’s meal is always tender and tasty and his beverages fresh off the vine!  We are always graciously welcomed.  The Lord’s table is set – whenever I run out of excuses!

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