The Gospel reading for the 2nd Sunday before Christmas, Luke 14:16-24, is the Parable of Jesus which has a master inviting many to a great dinner which he has prepared for them. Though the original invitees choose to refuse his invitation, the Gospel has the man reaching out to more, different and even undesirable people to come to his dinner party. The Gospel is very inviting and welcoming – it is not the man who offers the dinner who excludes anyone, but it is those who receive the invitation who choose to refuse to attend the dinner. This parable Christ tells about His Kingdom and about His Church. Anne Field in her book, From Darkness to Light: How One Became a Christian in the Early Church, writes this:
My brothers and sisters, I want to begin today by talking about the free gift God is offering His people. Each of you knows what sort of person he is, and what sort of life he lived in the past. When the Lord called you it was not to settle a score against you, not to bring you to account for your sins. It was to save you, to forgive you, to offer you new life. In the Gospel Jesus Himself calls out to the whole human race: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and overburdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke on your shoulders and learn to imitate Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; then you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28,29). What an invitation! Come to Me, all of you! Not just the powerful, the affluent, the educated, the strong, the healthy, the respectable; but also the weak, the poor, the underprivileged, the sick, the blind, the lame, the disabled, the hopeless, the abandoned. The Master makes no distinction between any of you; the good news is for everyone. Come to Me, He says, all you who toil and groan under your burdens. He is interested especially in those who have squandered their lives, who are weighed down by their sins, who are filled with shame and no longer have self-respect. These are the ones He calls to Himself, not to punish them, but to comfort their sorrows and ease their heavy load.