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WE ARE ALL INVITED TO THE BANQUET OF HEAVEN

Father Francis's picture
Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Phil. 2:5-11 & Lk. 14:12-14

What beautiful words Saint Paul gives us in the First Reading today. They sum up the life of Jesus and are used in Holy Week: He is God, equal to the Father, Who empties Himself and becomes one of His creatures. He humbles Himself even further and accepts the cruellest of all death, death on a cross. Then His Father raises Him to His exalted place at His right hand and gives Him the noblest name. Now every living being must bow their knee and head whenever His name is recited and “every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, the glory of God the Father.” What a beautiful poem of love and reverence for Jesus, the Son of God!

Jesus loved describing Heaven as a banquet, perhaps because some of the happiest moments of our lives are spent at them. Milestones, such as weddings, birthdays and jubilees, are celebrated there, friendships grow deeper and relationships are renewed. Let's spend a moment thinking about the joy of Heaven: it is going to be a never ending, happy and perfect feast. We cannot fathom what it will be like to see God and the inexhaustible beauty of His Triune majesty. The company is just going to be great! Everyone we meet will love us and we will love them. There will not be one person there we will not like. Wherever you sit you will be next to a saint, and the conversation will be wonderful!

That is the banquet that our heavenly Father has planned in today's story. But unfortunately there are going to be people who will make excuses for not coming. One will say, 'I am so involved in my worldly affairs that I just don’t have the time to think about preparing for Heaven’ or another excuse could be 'I have married a wife in a Registry Office or who was divorced.'

All our excuses can be summarised in the mortal sins we commit because it is these that will keep us from entering Heaven and attending the banquet. Mortal sins are what we must avoid. But we must even go further than this. We must be aware of the venial sins we commit because it is an accumulation of these that lead to mortal sins. It is that spiritual mediocrity that we have to avoid. It is what we call getting used to sin.

Jesus' story concludes by telling us that the master of the house is upset because the people who should have been the first to accept his invitation turn him down. But the banquet hall must be filled so he tells his servants to go out and make sure that every place is filled. Where is Jesus leading us? He is telling us that we are the master's servants. He wants His house to be filled. We have to have apostolic hearts that will not rest until every place in the banquet hall is filled - and then what a feast there will be!

Lord Jesus, we are looking forward to the day when we will be with You at the feast of the Kingdom of Heaven. Help us to understand that the joy and happiness of that banquet are worth the sacrifice of any worldly priority. May we have no excuses to make for not entering Heaven. May nothing ever draw us away from You.

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