Jesus Invites You

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time

When we come before our Lord for the Holy Mass it is good to prepare ourselves. Greet Jesus present for us in the Tabernacle. Ask his help so that you may also be fully present and worship well. Also before Mass, form Mass intentions; choose which persons or problems you wish to be especially blessed by the graces which will flow from this Sacrifice on the altar. Having a Mass intention helps ward off distractions because you will not be merely a spectator—just watching the priest pray—but an invested, active-participant in offering his sacrifice and yours, for the needs of many. If you have prayerfully prepared for Mass and there’s still a few minutes remaining before it begins, perhaps look over the day’s readings printed in the missalette.

There’s a feature in our missalettes you may or may not have noticed: for each Sunday, the readings are preceded by an introductory reflection. The entry for this Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time begins with an illustration which struck me: “How would you feel if you received an invitation today to a simple but free meal, maybe a plate with beans, some bread, and a tall glass of cool water? If you are wealthy, you would likely refuse, for you know you could afford a much more sumptuous meal elsewhere. But if you are having difficulty putting food on your table and your family is starving, this complimentary meal would be a godsend.”

Would I go to attend that meal? If the invitation to this meal were addressed to everyone in the general public rather than a personal invitation specifically to me, I can easily imagine myself staying at home, most likely to enjoy some reheated leftovers. But what if this invitation came from the Lord Jesus himself, wishing to be our host and companion at his simple meal? Then who would attend? We would like to think everybody would, yet how many people skip Sunday Mass for other activities instead? It is very possible to overlook or to undervalue the invitations of Jesus Christ.

Unlike the famous Sermon on the Mount (with its eight “blessed” Beatitudes recorded by St. Matthew), this morning’s Sermon on the Plain recounted by St. Luke features four blessings paired with four woes. “Woe” was the cry of Israel’s prophets (such as Isaiah, Amos, and Habakkuk) who warned people of impending distress. Jesus says:

Woe to you who are rich…
  Woe to you who are filled now…
  Woe to you who laugh now…
  Woe to you when all speak well of you…

The danger is, if we’re comfortable, satisfied, happy, and at home in this world, we may imagine that we don’t need God or may refuse to make personal sacrifices we’re called to make for him. We can easily ignore the needs of other people, if we decide not to care. We can distract ourselves from the reality of our own mortality, sometimes up until the very end. We can dismiss our impending judgment by the holy, righteous God and refuse to change our ways. The poor, the hungry, the suffering, and the mistreated are blessed, in part, because they more easily see that all is not right with this world. They more readily recognize, they are more open to accepting, that our flawed hearts and sinful cultures need the Divine Savior, Christ. And that openness is a blessing.

You accepted Jesus’ invitation to his meal here today, and that is very good, but in what areas of your life do you still decline him? The thing about even a free meal of beans and bread and water is that this menu seems unappetizing, unappealing. Many good things Christ wants to share with us feel like that at first. We have plenty of free time for the internet or television, but do we want to spend more time with the Lord in prayer? If we take home $30,000-a-year after taxes, our individual income is greater than 95% of people on earth, but do we want to share as generously as Jesus calls us to? We see the needs of our neighbors, near and far, but do we want to offer penances and acts of service for them, serving Christ within them?

The season of Lent is only two-and-a-half weeks away. To what new engagement with himself is Jesus personally inviting you? Blessed are you who respond to him, for this is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who share his simple table, for he promises you will be satisfied. And blessed are you who accept Christ’s invitations, for your reward will be great in heaven.

One Response to “Jesus Invites You”

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    Thank you, Father, for being a messenger of God’s Invitation :).

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