"Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled" (Luke 14:24).
Luke presents stories Jesus told originally to heighten the sense of urgency to heed God's invitation to life, while adding details that reflect the historical reality of the expansion of the church beyond its Jewish origins into the gentile world. The first guests fail to respond to the call to come to a great dinner, making trivial excuses, so the angry host has his servants fill the hall with the poor, crippled blind and lame, and even go out to the roads to corral strangers into the banquet hall.
The energy of the story is one of deep lament and frustration that so great an invitation from God has been turned down by so many guests. Jesus arrives in the Holy City after his public ministry of miracles and powerful preaching, only to weep at the indifference and obtuseness of the religious leadership. Their failure will bring disaster on Jerusalem. Luke records the actual outcome of this rejection after the Jewish-Roman War that ended with the leveling of the city and the violent diaspora of its people.
Do we sense the parallel to this story in our own times? Do we feel the urgent message that God's offer in our lives is not something disconnected from our choices and actions? History is the record of lost opportunities, blind ignorance and denial courting tragedy. We need only look at the daily headlines to see the trajectories to disaster we might still avert with common sense and courage.
The Good News is unstoppable, and the Holy Spirit is guiding history inexorably to its destiny as a New Creation and the Beloved Community. The banquet hall will be filled and the feast will go on. The question is, will we be there?