I cannot come to the Banquet…

“A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. …Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

Jesus’ prophetic words from Luke 14. Prophetic? But of course! The Word of the Lord is always prophetic.

Take the parable as a prophecy of World Youth Day and the scheduled ecumenical meeting of the Holy Father with the local heads of churches in Sydney. Those who WON’T be there–a list which includes at least two Archbishops–will be conspicuous by their absence.

Which reminds me of a story that takes me back 22 years to the days when I was a Lutheran Seminary student. Pope John Paul II had just completed his visit of Australia, and I was talking to the (then) General President of the Lutheran Church of Austrlia, Dr Les Grope (known affectionately as “Pope Grope”). He was telling us about his recent encounter with the Bishop of Rome at the ecumenical gathering in Melbourne.

“The General Church Council forbade me to accept the invitation to this event,” he said. (The GCC is the highest executive body in the LCA when the Synod isn’t in session). “But I went. And do you know what they were really worried about? They were concerned that I would need to address him as “Holy Father”. Do you know how I addressed him when he greeted me?” No, we didn’t know; please, tell us how you handled this difficult confessional situation! “I called him “Holy Father”,” he said with a quiet look of satisfaction on his face.

Dr Grope was (is–I believe he is still with us in this world) a true gentleman. Strong and firm in relation to his faith, kind and gentle with all whom he met. An example to some others who take their faith as seriously as he did but who are somewhat less adroit at showing common human courtesy.

In the mean time, they are coming from the hedgerows and streets and lanes from all directions in answer to the invitation. Mind you, that appears to be where most of them will be sleeping! Hopefully, not the Schutz-Beatons! See this article.

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3 Responses to I cannot come to the Banquet…

  1. Past Elder says:

    Let’s see if this comment survives. Let’s see if it engages the argument and expresses an opinion which can be discussed.

    I too am a veteran of big papal events.

    Could it not be that to apply a prophetic image of the coming of the Kingdom of God and the Messianic Era with the coming of the Christ to the coming of a staged spectacle with the coming of the “pope” just breaks all bounds of credibility and confirms yet again that this bears the mark of Anti-Christ, entirely foreign to and outside of the church of Christ?

    Who needs tiaras and coronations with this kind of thinking? Really, David, take a step back just for a minute and look at this.

  2. Schütz says:

    I think I have found a way of taming you, PE! ;-)

    It would indeed be a travesty if the whole point of World Youth Day was “the coming of the Pope”. You are right to point out the dangers inherant in any such event.

    Nevertheless, I wonder if you are quite fair to characterise the event in the way in which you do. In the post 1995 WYD’s the young people came to gather together with–what? Not a rock star, not some presidential candidate, but an ill, ailing old man who had a tendancy to dribble and mumble his words. Who was this man, and why did he attract the crowds?

    For that matter, why does his (just as elderly and a little more bookish) successor attract even greater crowds?

    So what are people coming to Sydney see? A hopping Kangaroo? A big bridge and a pointy Opera House? No? Well, how about a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’

    There is something eschatological in the sign of so many young people of the world gathering in such large numbers for the sake of the name of Jesus. If you cannot see it, you are failing to read the signs.

  3. Past Elder says:

    So we’re backing down to liken the pope to John the Baptist, eh? And that makes it OK.

    Not buying it.

    I remember one time in Boston trying to get across the river to Cambridge and the Fleet Center had lines for miles in every direction that I wondered if the Second Coming had booked the hall. Turns out it was Tony Robbins. Maybe he’s the pope.

    Crowds vindicate nothing. Jesus drew great crowds — until he started talking about giving his body to eat, and when he went to the Cross, even the Apostles scattered, including the supposed Rock.

    I remember coming away from the papal mega-event I went to thinking this must be what the Sermon on the Mount was like — but it was more like the human side of the Transfiguration, wanting to enshrine the moment rather than go into the city where there is much to endure.

    No, the pope is not he of whom that was written. And no amount of doctrinal development can make it so.

    And let every man stay in his own parish; there he will find more than in all the shrines even if they were all rolled to-gether. In your own parish you find baptism, the sacrament, preaching and your neighbour, and these things are greater than all the saints in heaven, for all of them were made saints by God’s Word and Sacrament.

    A little Babylonian Captivity for you — a captivity which appears not to be over.

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