Disclaimer: This reflection is offered by a person who is, at times, downright lazy and very often a skilled procrastinator. So, any similarities the reader might find to be true of themselves is purely coincidental.
Act, before it is too late…
Jesus tells the parable in Scripture of the individuals who receive an invitation to a Wedding Feast, but many of them find excuses for not attending.
When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”
The invitation mentioned in this parable is also the invitation given to each of us. We too are, at times, too spiritually crippled, blind and lame to encounter Christ in contemplative prayer. This encounter requires a true prayer from the heart, prayer that must come from the center of our being, which can also mean from the very center of our brokenness. If prayer is to be effective, we cannot remain on the surface of things, but we must make time to get to the heart of the matter in each of our lives.
There is a similar tale to this Biblical parable told by the famous Christian writer, C.S. Lewis. I was reminded of this in a homily I heard one Sunday. Many readers of this reflection will have heard the story, but I will attempt to expand upon it a little, (though not too much, as I don’t think C.S. Lewis needs much help from me).
It seems there was a gathering of Satan and some of his top demons, strategizing on how to draw more souls into hell. One ambitious young demon suggested the best way to draw more unfortunate souls to their demise would be to convince them there is no God. Satan, standing on a stage in front of the audience of demons, shook his head and said, “No, no, there is already too much proof that He does exist, so that won’t get us very far.”
Another demon quickly piped up and said, “Well then, let’s get them to believe there is no hell. We could use the media to convince gullible souls that there really are no consequences for their actions, and that in the end everything is acceptable.”
Satan rubbed his chin and, looking out across the menacing gathering, said, “Not bad, but with all the destruction we have been wreaking on humanity, I think many of them are beginning to realize that hell is a reality.”
Another demon raised his hand and, when Satan pointed to him, offered this little bit of advice. “Well, Satan,” the demon stammered, “maybe we could just get them to believe that you do not exist.” After bowing his head in silence for a moment, Satan laughed a deep and sinister laugh. He leaned forward, looking at the assembly of demons, and said, “Any one of those human souls who does not believe that I exist is already on its way here.” “Besides,” he added, “I don’t know if my pride could take having large numbers of souls not believe in me.”
Finally, a tall old graying demon stood up in the middle of the crowd, and everyone fell silent and gave him the floor. It was clear he had gained their respect over the centuries. In a deep, gravelly voice, the ancient demon said, “None of this will be necessary my evil friends, as there is only one thing we need convince these poor souls of.”
Satan, looking inquisitively across the room, said, “And just what is that?”
“We need only convince them,” the old demon paused for effect, “that there is no HURRY.”
“We need only convince them,” the old demon continued, “that there is no need for them to hurry to reform their lives; there is no need for them to hurry to seek God; there is no need for them to hurry to prepare themselves to meet God.”
“It is quite simple: in the morning we can convince them they have much work and many chores to do and they do not have time to ask God what He may want from them that day. In the afternoon, we can convince them that they have to get a good meal and spend time with friends, so there is no time to read spiritual books or stop by a Church. In the evening, we will convince them they have had a long hard day, that they deserve their rest and recreation, there is no time for prayer or any need to thank God for another day on earth. In short, there is no hurry.”
“We will simply convince them that they will have plenty of time to do all that holy stuff when they don’t have so many other things to deal with, or when they are older, or when they have more time, etc, etc. And then, eventually… inevitably… they will run out of time.”
Satan nodded his approval, and the meeting was adjourned.
Please pray this week that we might all find the time to pray and seek God while He still may be found.
“For he says, ‘At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.’” (2 Corinthian 6:2)
Copyright © 2020 by Mark Danis
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