We need to stop using that phrase. It doesn’t work in our lives today. Maybe it should be changed to “You emailed it in.” or even “You texted it in.” Those are modes of communication that require much less effort than mailing something. Mailing something is involved. You have to actually write out what you are going to say. You have to find an envelope, address it and then ransack every drawer in the house until you finally find a stamp (hopefully one that is the correct postage.) Then you have to not leave it sitting on your kitchen table until days go by and you eventually remember to stick it in the mailbox, where it will then take any number of days to get to its destination, if it ever does, and you won’t know if it’s there or not until you hear from the other person, which could be days or weeks.
So maybe “mailing it in” should never have been compared to something easy or slothful. It takes intent. It takes effort. It means something.
And into this, we hear a story about God doing some mailing of his own. God sending out invitations to a banquet, a dinner, a party. God put forth effort. God showed intent. For God, these invitations mean something. These are invitations to the Kingdom of God.
After all, this parable is Jesus’ response to someone’s statement about the Kingdom.
And as with all invitations, these can be accepted, rejected, even ignored.
For good or for ill, we find that we have the free will choice to respond to the invitation in whatever manner we wish.
This banquet didn’t just sneak up on those invited. They dinner had been planned and those invited had received their notice well ahead of time. Maybe they had all the intentions in the world to go. Maybe when they first heard the news they were even excited by it. But, it seems, that life, as it often does, became… busy for those people. Things happen, life moves on, priorities shift. We lose focus.
One of the guests had to make sure his property was in good order. Another had to make sure that the things entrusted to him were taken care of. Another had just bound his life to another person.
Are the guests’ reasons for not attending all that unreasonable? Doesn’t really seem like it. I mean, aren’t we to be good stewards? Aren’t we to honor our spouse and submit ourselves one to another, especially in the case of Holy Matrimony?
We talked a few weeks about worry and how what we worry about is usually the things that define our worth. These things defined the worth of the guests. At least in their eyes.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with marriage or being a good steward. In fact, those are wonderful things but not when they are things that give our life meaning. And not when we think those things can be taken care of today and we will worry about how the Kingdom of God looks at some other time in the future. Not when we try to separate and compartmentalize our life here and life there.
Again, Luke trying to show us Christ joining together the now with the Eschaton. Because for people with a place at the table, eternal salvation is great but it sure does seem like the priorities of this life and where we find our value in this life matters a great deal.
So who is in and who is out?
Before this parable, Christ tells us of another dinner. And it’s here that we can find a model for the Church.
We can not only respond to our invitations but also send out invitations of our own. We can be ministers of reconciliation to the (physically) poor, the (emotionally) crippled, the (spiritually) blind; those too wrecked with guilt and shame to even begin to know how to walk the path with God.
Once again, we see that the concept of our community is important.
Our invitations, our banquet should match that of God’s. We should be evaluating our notions of who is in and who is out.
We have seen the disciples lose sight of the fulfilled Kingdom of God. We see it in the invited dinner guests. And we see that Christ takes this very seriously.