Sometimes we get left out. We are not included or invited to a family or friend’s gathering, party, celebration…and it hurts. And sometimes one of our kids isn’t invited…which, as a parent, often hurts us just as badly as it does the child if not more so. Recently this happened to me when my daughter wasn’t invited to a big event that I thought she should have been invited to. My daughter was a little hurt and I was even more hurt for her. I know what it feels like to be left out, whether it’s unintentional or deliberate on the part of the person doing the inviting. I sat through Mass yesterday stewing about all of this as soon as the priest started his sermon about receiving an “invitation.” (Of course he was talking about God, and how He invites the lowliest, the least loved, the most in need of help among us, not the popular ones or our best friends or closest family members as is the case among us humans.)
Instead of hearing much of the sermon, my resentment kicked in and I was thinking of all of the things I would say in a text or email response when I got home. Luckily during the church service I also heard the words, “lead us not into temptation” loud and clear during the Lord’s prayer! And I realized my building resentment was probably just Satan trying to pull me off of my spiritual beam. I also reflected on the words of a good friend of mine who I talk to often whenever I am feeling spiritually off-center or resentful or down. She says, “their rejection could be God’s protection.” Think about it…whenever we are not included, not invited, uninvited, rejected…that could be God’s gentle hand trying to keep us from more harm.
Fortunately, there is Someone who always invites us…and that is God. I believe God extends a daily invitation to each and every one of us to be part of His Kingdom…whether it’s inviting us to the Lord’s banquet here on earth at Holy Communion, or inviting us to do His will by serving others, or inviting us to feel joy through all of His gifts. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t always RSVP…we either ignore the invitation or decide not to accept it. In the Gospel of Matthew, Chap 22, Jesus tells a parable about a king inviting his friends and family to his son’s wedding…but his first and second rounds of invitations go unanswered. So he invites people off of the streets to attend. But then the king notices one of the attendees is not “dressed” in wedding garments (or in other words, is disrespectful and not really wanting to be there.) Jesus concludes by saying “…many are called but few are chosen,” meaning that most of us are called, or invited by God to be part of His kingdom…but only those who RSVP and suit up and show up to be fully present will be chosen to be part of the eternal party known as heaven. And in the end, isn’t that really the only party that matters?