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Dec 21, 2017

A Save the Date for Eternal Salvation

Deacon John Harden

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus explained to his disciples how Moses and all the prophets, had foretold of his coming, (Luke 24:25, 17). You could say that the prophets had sent out “Save the Date” cards announcing the coming of the Messiah. 

One of the prophecies concerning the coming of the Lord had to do with a messianic banquet. Isaiah foretold how the Lord would one day invite all of humanity to a great feast, a feast to celebrate the Lord’s salvation over sin and death, (see Isaiah 25:6-9). Jesus, appears to have had this messianic feast in mind when he shared the Parable of the Great Feast, (see Luke 14:15-24).

In the parable, a man gave a great banquet and he invited many people to it. Who doesn’t love a great party? Well, apparently the people he invited didn’t, because when he sent his servants to let everyone know that the feast was ready, they all gave one excuse after another for why they couldn’t attend. One said he had bought a field and he wanted to go see it. Another said he had just bought some oxen, and he wanted to inspect them. The third said he had married a wife, and therefore he couldn’t come.

So, the master sent his servants to invite all of the poor, the maimed, the blind, and the lame. But there was still room. The master wanted a full house, so he sent his servants out even further into the highways and the hedges to invite even more people to his feast.

And what of those who were originally invited but did not come? The Gospel says that because of this, they would not taste of the master’s feast.  

In a few days we will celebrate the feast Christmas. I’m excited for it. But as a father, I’m even more excited for my children. They cannot wait for Christmas morning, and I am looking forward to seeing the joy on their faces as they open the many presents they have received from family and friends. Because as a father, I am happy when my children are happy. Our heavenly Father is no different. He wants each and every one of us to be happy. And true happiness can only be found when we share in his blessed life. True happiness can only be found when we share in our heavenly Father’s banquet.

Each and every one of us is invited to this Messianic banquet. There is room for all. We should be excited about it. But like those in today’s parable, we often find excuses to not attend the feast. Like them, we sometimes find ourselves saying, “I’m too busy at my job. There’s just no way I can make it to Mass.” Or we might say, ““Oh, I’ve got too much going on in my life, I don’t have time for prayer today.”

The truth is, our homes, our jobs, and our families are all important. But as the Psalmist tells us, “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor … In vain is your earlier rising, your going later to rest” (Psalm 127:1-2). What good is our life, if God is not a part of it? While our homes, our jobs, and our families are all important, the most important thing, Our Lord tells us, is to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matthew 6:33).

What is it in our life that is keeping us from celebrating the feast? A better question might be, what was it that attracted the poor, the lame, the blind, and the maimed to the feast? The answer is simple and perhaps even obvious. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. There is nothing more important in their lives. Not only do they not have any excuses, they are positively overjoyed to be invited. It was completely unexpected and a pleasant surprise for them.

This is why our Lord tells us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3). We must strive to be poor in spirit. No matter what we have, our money, our possessions, even our family, our friends, if we are poor in spirit, we recognize that we have nothing if we do not have God in our lives. St. Paul tells us that he counted everything in his life as meaningless because of the saving love of Jesus Christ (see Philippians 3:7).

Christmas is a season of joy. It is a season of giving and receiving. God, whose love for us surpasses all understanding has prepared for us the greatest gift of all, eternal salvation and a share in his blessed life. Let us set aside all earthly cares so we can receive this gift and celebrate this feast.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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