“Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!
Hebrews 13:2, MSG)
Have you ever failed to RSVP for a dinner party? The invitation has come, lovingly prepared with care. The menu is bountiful, thoughtfully designed. The table is set, anticipating the community that will gather around it to partake of the coming meal (both food that is tangible, and the food of deliberate love extended towards all). The host is ready to welcome you with open arms.
But what if you didn’t show up, even if you said you were coming? Sure, your last-minute excuse would be ‘polite’ and ‘reasoned’ – ‘Work has delayed me. My family needs me. This thing or that is demanding my attention.’ One by one, everyone sends their regrets, “begging off, one after another making excuses” (Luke 14:18, MSG). What happens to the lavish dinner party then? More pointedly, how does the host respond?
In Jesus’ Parable of the Great Banquet, the host, representing God, responds with an angry urgency: “Then go to the country roads. Whoever you find, drag them in. I want my house full!” (Luke14:23, MSG).
Often we minimise or seek to explain away the host’s response. God, offended by our excuses? What if we instead chose to look at the host’s response as coming from a place of deep desire to share his banquet table with those who would come to the party, whose position in life had stripped away all pretense, excuse, or distraction, and simply left them unable to refuse such a generous offer? What if you postured your hospitality in such a graciously open way – welcoming alien and stranger to share your table, regardless of ethnicity, culture, or ‘appropriateness’ to sit with you? Perhaps those who God desires for you to share a table with are close than you can imagine. What if you invited them in? Invite a friend to ponder this Kingdom reality with you, using the spiritual practice of “Imagining the Text: Ignatian Contemplation” to imaginatively enter into the scene of Luke 14:15-24 in The Message.