Tuesday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
(Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 14:15-24)
The Year of Faith, which Pope Benedict initiated last month, has the ambitious objective of launching a new evangelization effort. Catholics, with faith rekindled, are to reach out to family, friends, and neighbors who have lost the spark of faith. In the enterprise they are likely to meet some of the same excuses that Jesus relates in the gospel parable today.
Two of the invitees who reject the offer to the dinner party say that they have business to attend. They resemble the majority of people today who, far from seeing their work as a vocation from God, view it as a career that they choose and cultivate themselves. Faith for these people is of marginal importance – if not a means to a social network that might advance their careers, then a sector of one’s private life that gives identity and customs to highlight times of transition. The other example that Jesus gives is the man who has just married. Is it far-fetched to suggest that his excuse is pleasure? Perhaps many in our society see Catholicism as teaching mores which may interfere with their pursuit of sensual gratification.
Other trends explaining contemporary disaffection from the Church can be so readily named that it may seem impossible to stem the tide. Yet Pope Benedict believes that the task is doable. Just as the master of the house in Jesus’ parable sends his servants to go out again and invite the unfortunate and otherwise marginal people, so the pope is urging us to return to the people who have rejected the initial invitation of faith with a more vigorous appeal. We are to testify how God’s love has given our lives direction, stability, and happiness, and will do the same for them.