November 4, 2008
Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop. Memorial
Luke 14: 15-24
One of those at table with Jesus said to him, "Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God." He replied to him, "A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many. When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, 'Come, everything is now ready.' But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, 'I have purchased a field and must go to examine it; I ask you, consider me excused.' And another said, 'I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them; I ask you, consider me excused.' And another said, 'I have just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.' The servant went and reported this to his master. Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.' The servant reported, 'Sir, your orders have been carried out and still there is room.' The master then ordered the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled. For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.'"
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the gift of a new day. You know that I believe in you, but I ask for the grace to grow in faith. You know that I love you. Increase my love. Finally, help me to live with a joyful and unshakeable hope.
Petition: Lord, let me respond to your invitation today, whatever it may be.
1. All Are Invited
The word “catholic” means universal or “according to the totality.” This means that the Church is totally united to Christ, and it is also means that the Church is sent out to the entire world (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 830–831). Men, women, children, rich, poor, healthy, sick – no one is excluded. Everyone is invited to partake in the Good News. Everyone is invited to God’s banquet of grace in this life and the next. God takes the initiative; he seeks the people out. He is more interested in our salvation than we are. Christ is pleading with us to let him love us: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
2. Too Busy for God
The sad reality is that we often respond to this tremendous invitation to love with, “I’m busy… maybe later.” While there are those who violently oppose and persecute the Church, the all-too-frequent apathy on the part of many of its members is much more dangerous. Outright persecution forces us to decide and often leads to heroism on the part of Christ’s followers. Yet our polite “indifference” to God and his Church weakens its vitality and witness. If their beliefs aren’t reflected in their decisions and in their lives, Catholics seem no different than anyone else. It is this mediocrity which we have to resist: “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).
3. The Task of the Messenger
Christ has deigned to use us as his instruments. This is a gift and a responsibility: “Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled” (Luke 15:23). This passage closely resembles the Risen Christ’s message to his apostles to go out to all the world to proclaim the Good News (cf. Mark 16:15). Often the messenger will become frustrated with the apparent failure of his endeavors: “It seems no one cares.” In these moments it is important not to allow discouragement to take over. God’s grace and the power of the truth will bear fruit. Many might say “no,” but many others will respond generously. So that more people will be reached, we must “ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, if today I hear your voice, let me not harden my heart (cf. Psalms 95:7-8). Let me be attentive to my relationship with you and to the needs of my neighbor. Send me, Lord. Let me be your instrument. Work through me to reach out to those in need.
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