Romans 12: 5-16
So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.
Psalm 131: 1-3
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.
Luke 14: 15-24
One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”
Last Friday we celebrated the Feast of All Saints, honoring men and women who have gone before us to Heaven and shown us how to live a holy life. When we look at their heroic virtue or read the stories about the graces they received or the miracles they saw in their lives, we may have a similar reaction as the dinner guest in the Gospel, thinking, “Wow — how blessed and special are they!” as if sainthood is a privilege reserved for just a few. While we can feel challenged by the example set by the saints, it is not the Lord’s will for us to see holiness as something too great for us, especially if we use that false humility as a way to hold ourselves excused from God’s call.
Jesus reminds us in the Gospel today that all are invited to be holy, to dine in the Kingdom of God, but not everyone accepts the invitation. One can hear this parable and wonder how anyone could reject such a nice invitation. But those dinner guests are no different from anyone else who simply became too preoccupied with their own lives. They were so focused on their fields, or their business that they could not see past it or imagine that they were invited to something wonderful, so they rejected the gift. Perhaps they assumed there would be another invitation; either way, it was not as important to them as what they had going on, and they saw the invitation not as a wonderful opportunity, but an imposition. It is sobering to think of all the ways the Lord invites us to holiness but at the same time gives us the freedom to say no, and humbling to acknowledge all the distractions that compete for our attention that can tempt us, if not to completely reject the Lord, to put Him off, assuming there will be time to seek Him later.
The saints were not any more gifted or graced than any of us today, but what sets them apart is that they said “yes” to the Lord’s invitation to take up their crosses and follow Him. While we may consider ourselves humble to think, “I could never be like that,” the truly humble response to God’s call is to just say “yes” in whatever way the Lord is calling you to follow Him more closely. For you, this might mean letting go of a particular sin or bad habit. It might look like making more time in your day for prayer and reading Scripture. It might be a call to change your life’s direction dramatically. Your path to sainthood will look different from that of others, as the Lord has given you unique gifts and unique crosses. But He has prepared a place for you at His banquet and His perfect will is that you be there. Thank Him today for His great love and His call for you to be a saint. Ask Him for the grace to answer His invitation with a whole-hearted “yes.”