Have you ever been invited to a social event you know you should attend, and then spend the entire time between the invitation to the event and the actual event struggling to think up reasons to not attend. Little reasons will do. You stub your toe. “That’s it. I’m not going!” You might waffle, see-saw, and live in a constant restless state of indecision, right up until the very last minute. Then, something might happen and you reluctantly say to yourself “This might not be so bad.” Sometimes you force yourself. Sometimes you are forced by others. Then go you. And in fact, it is not so bad. You have a great time. In fact, you have am amazing time.
Have you ever been the one inviting someone else to do something, knowing full well that they would absolutely love it? They might even be changed by it? You are so enthusiastic about this, and have been so positively influenced by it that you want to share it with others, because you just know they will feel the same way you do, and you want them to feel same joy you did. I love to read, so I often suggest books to people I think they might like to read. Interestingly, with some folks, the more you talk about the object of your excitement, the less enthusiastic they become. Perhaps they instantly respond with various superficial reasons why they probably will not like the book you are suggesting. “I will have to read that sometime,” they might say to you in a flippant, non-committal way. You might react by thinking dark thoughts. How dare they not be as excited about this as you are? About a year ago, I had entreated a close friend who also loves books to read Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. I gave her my copy, declaring it an excellent, page-turning, plot-twisting, classic-yet-innovative murder mystery. She began to read it, but was unable to continue because it did not interest her. However, because of the new film version of the story, she finished reading it, and excitedly told me she loved it as much as I thought she would. I was happy because I knew she would like the book, and because we could then share a lengthy conversation about all of the various aspects of the book that we appreciated.
I think this is the way with the never-ending invitation for us to live thoughtful, purposeful lives in the presence of God. Not after we die, but right here on earth. Like those invited to the King’s wedding banquet in today’s Gospel, we often resist God’s invitation, some of us reacting with hostility, arrogance, or even shooting the messenger. I think it must happen to all of us, because from time to time, we can forget who we are. But then, we remember. When we do, and when we are ready, we can once again take our place as honoured guests at the banquet, received by a gracious God who without prejudice, revels in our return. On this weekend of Thanksgiving, this is something to be thankful for.