12 Then Jesus said to the person who had invited him, “When you host a lunch or dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers and sisters, your relatives, or rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return and that will be your reward. 13 Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. 14 And you will be blessed because they can’t repay you. Instead, you will be repaid when the just are resurrected.”
15 When one of the dinner guests heard Jesus’ remarks, he said to Jesus, “Happy are those who will feast in God’s kingdom.”
16 Jesus replied, “A certain man hosted a large dinner and invited many people. 17 When it was time for the dinner to begin, he sent his servant to tell the invited guests, ‘Come! The dinner is now ready.’ 18 One by one, they all began to make excuses. The first one told him, ‘I bought a farm and must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I bought five teams of oxen, and I’m going to check on them. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21 When he returned, the servant reported these excuses to his master. The master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go quickly to the city’s streets, the busy ones and the side streets, and bring the poor, crippled, blind, and lame.’ 22 The servant said, ‘Master, your instructions have been followed and there is still room.’ 23 The master said to the servant, ‘Go to the highways and back alleys and urge people to come in so that my house will be filled. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”
Sometimes, a fresh start means a total change of direction.
Jesus tells the story of a man who is planning dinner for his friends. But one by one, each turns him down – some with better excuses than others. Finally in exasperation, he says: “Fine. If my friends don’t want to come, then I’ll find new friends to invite.” And so he sends his people out with the charge to welcome in those others would ignore: “the poor, crippled, blind, and lame.”
There are times when we have our hearts set on something. We are convinced that this is the path for us.
But then, we come up against rejection after rejection, reason after reason why a thing won’t work – and we go away feeling deflated, defeated, and dejected. The party planner in Jesus’ story isn’t willing to accept defeat so easily. He’s still got a whole kitchen full of food that someone needs to eat, and the DJ has already set up the dance floor. So, when all the people he knows turn him down, he turns to others.
Sometimes faithfulness to God means figuring out our own path around all the no’s. Sometimes following the Christ’s call on our lives means turning toward people we didn’t expect if we want to carry out our mission.
Sometimes a fresh start means being surprised by where God places us and who God asks us to serve. I will never forget, when I was doing pastoral care training in Jersey City, thinking to myself: “How did a kid from the middle of PA ever get here?”
When Christ calls us to a fresh start, we can’t be afraid to change direction.
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
When have you had to be creative to persevere in the face of frustration? How did God meet you in that with opportunities you didn’t expect?
Prayer: God, we know that often we just want to do our own thing in our own way. We think we’ve heard from you already and have it all figured out. And then when we run into roadblocks, we are ready to give up. Don’t let us. Redirect us toward the path and the people you have given us to serve. Amen.