An Invitation to Dine

The Parable of the Great Banquet

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Luke 14:15-24

This passage may stir some confusion in us. Why would the man invite ordinary people to the banquet? In Letter to the Colossians 3:5-14, St. Paul talks about our old, immoral practices lacking of the Creator’s wisdom. We are called to be the imitators of Christ, “Christians”. He calls us now to be renewed in compassion, kindness and patience and to forgive as we have been forgiven by God.

God has invited us all to the vast banquet that is his kingdom. How we respond to this invitation is important to our moral well-being. If we do not attend it despite being invited and choose to use the invitation at our own will, we would be like those who born into the Church in someway and then took it for granted. On the other hand, if we consider this invitation with a lot of importance, we would enthusiastically attend his banquet every single time. These are like the Gentiles, who were converted and redeemed by the grace of God. Because we know that like them, the cause of our redemption too was this banquet from the Kingdom of Heaven, and so we can not do without it.

We are honoured to be invited to such a banquet, but we have to fulfil certain duties as a Christian individual in order to continue receiving gifts from the kingdom of God. Analogously, although we receive a lot of grace during Mass, that doesn’t imply that we can enter the Kingdom of God. We have to be Christ like, as St. Paul says, change our old ways, rid our youthful follies, and clothe ourselves with ‘’compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’’. And we must do this not out of a sense of effort, but by emptying ourselves so that we can be filled by the Holy Spirit. So, during this season of Advent, let us make an attempt to clothe ourselves with gifts of the Holy Spirit, everyday.

Collaborated by Arun Soni and Joel Vasanth.

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Broken Crayons Still Colour.

Back when I was a kid, I received a huge Crayola box full of crayons and I felt like I held in my hand, every colour in the world.
I remember how sad I used to be whenever a crayon broke, and how the broken pieces were so small compared to the others in the box.
While the ‘perfect crayons’ stood tall and proud, the ‘imperfect crayons’ cowered below, short and stout. The ‘perfect crayons’ held their place, while the ‘imperfect crayons’ wiggled out of the box and sometimes even got lost. The ‘perfect crayons’ were easy to colour with, while the ‘imperfect crayons’ were hard to hold and even more difficult to colour with.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the brokenness in your life, but you must never ever let your past, your brokenness and your hurt define you, but let them mould you into someone stronger than you were as you redefine what lies ahead.
No matter how broken you may be, what you’re made of hasn’t changed. No amount of brokenness can change that. You are still you, and all of your broken fragments too.
You were created in the glorious image of a God, who wants to carry your hurt and your burdens for you, and He wants you to see you healed and restored and whole again.
You may think you’re a mess right now, but you are one beautiful and unique colour in God’s masterpiece. There is no one like you.
You are your own crayon, full of vibrancy and life. You are purposeful and you add your own signature hue to all you do. There is no colour like you.
You may not see His big picture right now, but God has already drawn the outlines, and He knows where each colour will go to complete His work of art.
God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. His masterpiece consists of a colour palette so beautiful and varied because He uses all the crayons in His box – the broken and the unbroken.
Our past may have broken us, but that does not mean we cannot colour out a beautiful future.
Broken crayons still colour.
So will you.

Serve and not be Served.

A week before the Crucifixion of Our Lord, the wife of Zebedee, approached Jesus asking for a favour – to grant her sons to sit, one at His right and the other at His left when He comes in glory (Mathew 20:21). Our Lord knew that everyone had been impressed with the wild popularity and the adulation of the crowds and had assumed that it was only a matter of time before Jesus became the Lord of Jerusalem and drove out the Roman soldiers.

But Jesus knew what would happen in the space of only a few days. “You do not know what you are asking,” He told them. “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?” The Apostles failed to perceive what leadership meant in the Kingdom of God. Leadership in the world is all about prestige and pride. But in the Body of Christ, it is all about self-sacrifice. It is all about surrender and submission. It is all about setting one’s own interests aside for the sake of others. It is all about laying down one’s own life so that others may live. Jesus explained that unlike when the Gentiles rule with tyranny, here it would bewhoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be the slave of all (Mark 10.42-44).

We see our Lord opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the ears of the deaf, strengthening the legs of the lame, opening the minds of the unbelieving, and forgiving the pollution of sinners. Do we not see Him most clearly, as a Servant, when He bent down, at the Last Mystical Supper, to wash the feet of His disciples? And do we not hear Him call us to the same service?

As He has become our Suffering Servant by ascending the Way of the Cross, so also must we become His servants, and the servants of our fellow man.

Serving our fellowman requires that we point man to paradise; it requires that we give up our own demands for prestige, for power and influence, from getting in our way. Let us show kindness to one another. Let us be gracious and merciful. Let us treat each other with the greatest respect and honor. Let us be patient with eccentricities and limitations. Let the world know that our fellowship is bound together with cords of love, forgiveness and grace. We can achieve this only when we allow the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts to attain the level of humility our Lord reflected.

“.. Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:28

God’s Delay is not Denial

We live in a society where we want our requests to be granted in an instant. Social media and societal influences affect our lives, even if we don’t know it is. In this era of Instagram and instant noodles, sometimes we find ourselves expecting our prayers to be instantly answered on-demand as well.

We pray and pray for the deepest desires of our heart – for a promotion, or a new job, or for recovery from illness, for a life partner, for anything – and when it doesn’t happen in the time frame we want it to, or society expects it to, we tend to lose hope in God.

When my sister and I ask our parents for things or permission to do something, they either answer with a YES or a NO. Regardless of whatever their answer is, they would always tell us to accept it equally. NO may not be the answer we wanted to hear, but it was still an answer and the final verdict we had to follow, and we had to accept is as easily as we would have a YES.

I like to believe that God has two answers : YES, or WAIT, BECAUSE I HAVE SOMETHING BETTER PLANNED FOR YOU.

Patience and trust can be a tiring ordeal. Many times, this ‘waiting time’ feels like ‘wasting time’, but God makes us wait for a reason, and he allows opportunities and blessings to happen in His timing.

It reminds me of when Martha and Mary asked for Jesus when Lazarus fell seriously ill. Perhaps they looked about anxiously for signs of His arrival. Perhaps with every knock on the door and the sound of shuffling feet outside their home, they thought it might be Jesus finally appearing to save their brother.

But Jesus didn’t come.

The funeral service had been over for 4 days when Jesus finally came to town.

I appreciate Martha for how human she was, how honest and blunt she was for telling it like it is when she told Jesus “If You had been here, my brother would not have died.” This is a natural response. Even I would have been this upset and mad if the only person who I knew could have saved him waltzed into the scene when it was way too late.

While her initial doubt was much like mine, the faith and certainty that followed it was unlike me.

When she said “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You”, I wonder what she expected at this point. I mean, her brother had been dead for 4 days after all, what did she expect would happen now?

And yet, with just a word from Jesus, Lazarus’ spirit returned to his body, and he opened his eyes, almost as if he’d just woken up from a deep sleep!

Jesus had bypassed the simple healing of His sick friend in order to perform the far greater miracle of bringing him back to life!

Similarly, when Mordecai uncovered an assassination plot on King Xerxes, the King’s life was saved, but Mordecai was forgotten. His only reward was that his name was recorded in the King’s chronicles.

Later in the story, when Mordecai was to be executed due to the conspiracy plotted by the King’s wicked official, Haman, God decided that Mordecai’s delay was now over. As a result, the King ended up preparing a handsome reward for Mordecai and chose Haman to do the honors and parade him around town, letting everyone know who Mordecai was and what he had done!

Waiting for God’s timing may also give us a greater miracle than we had hoped for.

I read somewhere that the bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants we know of. At first, they appear quite slothful. The bamboo is part of the grass family and doesn’t have any branches, so depending upon the soil and the climate, it emerges very slowly. While there is seemingly no progress above ground, its unique multi-tiered root system is forming taking hold and strengthening its foundation below the ground. And once the roots are ready, some species of bamboo are known to surge upwards as fast as 39 inches in 24 hours!

It is no wonder they are called bamboo ‘shoots’, for the way they suddenly shoot up towards the sky!

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

-Romans 8:28

If You Love it, Set it Free..

There is a very famous and overly-used statement in the English language, “If you love it, set it free. If it comes back, then it is meant to be“. The reason I call it over-used is because we seem to use that when it comes to our earthly relationships, but we tend to abuse it when it comes to our divine relationship with God. How often do we let go of God and then come back to Him? How often do to we fall back in the same pattern of getting hurt and hurting, arriving and leaving? Through the various ups and downs, through all the going and coming, there is one thing that is certain – it is easier to let go than to hold on, but we tend to let go of the right ones and hold on to the wrong.

Letting go is a divine act of  Man. Acceptance is a divine act of  God. 

No matter how many times we fall astray or let go of God, He still sets us free, relying that one day we will realise the quality of His love for us and come running back to Him. He lets us leave every time we decide to, but He doesn’t let go of us. He gives us the freedom of making our own choices when we decide to go, He tries to stop us but never forces us. His love is so abundant, so gracious that it accepts every single one of our flaws and loves us the same – as if nothing happened.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.”

-Luke 10:27

Let us consider the story of the good Samaritan here. The priest and the Levite saw the wounded man and simply let go of him and moved on, going about their business. But the Samaritan looked at this man with pity and accepted him as one of his own. Nursed his wounds, took him to the closest inn where he paid the innkeeper to look after the man. He even agreed to bare the additional expense of this man’s recovery.
Here is a fine example of letting go and accepting. If the Samaritan didn’t let go of his pride and accept this man as his own brother, he would’ve surely perished!

Like St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless unless they find their rest in you.” That is the state we, as humans, are constantly battling. Our restless hearts are always looking for attachments, looking for connections but none of them last. Simply because we were not meant for this world. Even if this world tells you a million times that you belong, just one whisper from the Lord will make you realise that you don’t. You were made for something greater, nothing short of extravagant. So every time you find yourself out in the world losing a battle, and straying far away from home, fear not! We have a God who doesn’t let go of us even when we think we are too far gone. Just remember to look for Him and you will find Him holding on to you as if His life depended on it!

What a friend we have in Jesus!

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