Pope Francis said Jesus gives us a second chance to attend the heavenly banquet – but he also is just.
The Holy Father’s analysis came during his homily on November 6, 2018, during Mass at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican. He based his comments on the story in the 14th chapter of Luke.
In that famous story, a man gives a great dinner and invites many friends. But all come up with an excuse why they can’t attend. The man sends his servant to ask them again to come, but none do. In the end, the man invites people from the “highways and hedgerows” to come and fill his house for the great feast. And those who have excuses will miss the meal.
Pope Francis described this as the passage of the double rejection, reported Vatican News. Despite the invitation to dinner and being told the meal was ready, the guests failed to attend.
“There is “always an apology,” the Pope said. “They apologize. Apologizing is the polite word we use in order not to say, ‘I refuse.’”
And so the master then told his servants to “bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.”
This passage, the Pope said, ends with a second refusal, this one from the mouth of Jesus Himself: When someone rejects Jesus, “the Lord waits for them, gives them a second chance, perhaps even a third, a fourth, a fifth… but in the end, He rejects them”.
Of course, the Holy Father asks if we do the same when Jesus asks us to be close to him:
“And this refusal makes us think of ourselves, of the times that Jesus calls us; calls us to celebrate with Him, to be close to Him, to change our lives. Think about seeking out His most intimate friends and they refuse! Then He seeks out the sick… and they go; perhaps some refuse. How many times do we hear the call of Jesus to come to Him, to do a work of charity, to pray, to encounter Him, and we say: ‘Excuse me, Lord, I’m busy, I don’t have time. Yes, tomorrow [today] I can’t…’ And Jesus remains there.”
Pope Francis asks that each person reflect on how often we have an excuse for refusing to spend time with Jesus. How often do we refuse Him?
“Each one of us should think: In my life, how many times have I felt the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to do a work of charity, to encounter Jesus in that work of charity, to go to pray, to change your life in this area, in this area that is not going well? And I have always found a reason to excuse myself, to refuse.
“Yes, He is good, He is merciful – He is merciful, but He is also just. And if you close the door of your heart from within, He cannot open it, because He is very respectful of our heart. Refusing Jesus is closing the door from within, and He cannot enter.”