“Many are called…but few are chosen”…
We have heard these words before by our Lord and Savior, and they serve as an important theme for the feast we celebrate today…the Sunday of the Forefathers.
Throughout all of human history, there have been countless cultures and groups of people who have come close in their understanding of God. For example, we can look to the 120 cultures around the world who kept in their history the memory of a great and universal flood, which is known to Christians in detail by the story of Noah.
In the book of Acts, we read how the ancient Greeks knew about the one True God, and even built a temple to Him called “The temple of the unknown God”. They worshiped the God of our Fathers…but had no idea who this God was until St. Paul proclaimed that this was the One True God in Christ.
The list of people, cultures, and religions that came close can go on and on...so many that were called to have a true understanding of God. But today on this feast day, we do NOT remember those who were called…but rather those who were chosen. We commemorate the forefathers and foremothers of the faith, the ones who were chosen to conserve the true history of mankind.
In the Gospel lesson today, we hear of a grand banquet that has been prepared. The Host…Christ our God…sends mankind an invitation. He tells us that it is not necessary to live in an empty world without God…without hope…without life. The time has now come to enter into the feast…into the grand banquet that is prepared for us.
And so God sent the forefathers: Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, and all the Prophets. He sent these men to the Jewish Nation, who were the chosen people, the first to be invited to the feast! And we hear a rather peculiar response to this grand invitation from God…a rejection…coupled with reasons why they were to busy for God!
“I just bought some land, I have to go check it out….
“I just purchased 5 yoke of oxen and need to go test them…”
or, my favorite,
“It’s my wife’s fault, I just got married and can’t come”.
So God sent out a second group of messengers, the apostles and Fathers of the Church: St. Paul, St. Luke, St. John, even St. Nicholas who was here just one week ago…he sent this second group to give the invitation to all those in the streets, to all those on the highways and byways...“Tell them” He says….”implore them that the banquet is ready and the feast is prepared! “
This is where the Gospel leaves us…with a cliffhanger ending……an ending which depends on each and every one of us here today.
What do we do with this invitation?
As we stand here before the gates of heaven, we have been handed an invite into life, hope, and joy, and there is no ambiguity to this invitation. It has precise instructions written on it of how to get to this grand banquet.
How will we answer?
At the very least, the gospel offers us a “what not to do”…and even goes so far as to warn us that if we do fall into the trap that the Jews did…if our priorities in life are not in check…we will not taste of the grand banquet at all.
There are so many societal pressures…so many responsibilities laid out at our feet day after day. Our careers, our family, our other social obligations take up SO MUCH OF OUR TIME, that by the end of the day there seems to be nothing left for God.
How many times have you recently said to a family member or a friend:
“I can’t believe Christmas is just a week away…I have SO MUCH TO DO!”
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I heard a priest say once that it during this time of year, we become to busy to live…and to busy to die.
At the Nativity of our Lord, even on the very day that God came into the World, after all of the invitations were sent out by the forefathers throughout the centuries (and yes, the Jews had CENTURIES to plan for this…)they were too busy for God. There was no room at the inn.
We hear in the Gospel of John: “Christ came unto His own…and His own people where not there to receive Him.”
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the banquet lies before us today. It is not some superficial place that we will get to eventually after we pass away…it is here….it is now. The Gospel today says: “Come NOW, for all things are ready.”
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, remember…this…gospel lesson. Read it over and over again. Study the invite that has been given to you by the Holy Forefathers, Apostles, Saints, and Fathers of the Church. Slow down this week, and take the time to pray, fast, and prepare for the Feast which will begin Sunday, Christmas Eve, at 7:00 PM. Affirm your RSVP to the banquet which you are called to partake in. And as you take a step forward to receive the Eucharist today…say to yourself:
“I come, dear Lord, Humbly and gratefully. Who am I that you should invite me to such a banquet? Give me the strength to respond affirmatively to your invitation…putting aside all other invitations of this life…and allow me to spend eternity in your loving presence…amen!