“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.