Then the Lord Jesus told this parable: “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master.
Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. ’For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’” (Luke 14:16-24)
Archbishop Dimitri comments on the parable:
The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come (vv. 18-20).
All three rather contemptuously disregard the generosity of the host, who cares for them and values their friendship. Their responses might be paraphrased, “Oh, I had intended to go, but something more important to me has come up.” The three excuses are meant to typify human concerns and priorities that, important as they may be in daily life, are nothing in relation to God’s love and care. The invitation and the response illustrate man’s neglect of what is of infinitely greater value to him – salvation and life eternal with God – than his earthly, perishable concerns. The Jews had been prepared for this final invitation by the events of their own history and by God’s speaking to them through the prophets, but since it did not offer improvement in their material concerns, they rejected it. (The Parables, p. 128)