Jesus said, A man had received visitors. And when he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to invite the guests.
He went to the first one and said to him, ‘My master invites you.’ He said, ‘I have claims against some merchants. They are coming to me this evening. I must go and give them my orders. I ask to be excused from the dinner.’
He went to another and said to him, ‘My master has invited you.’ He said to him, ‘I have just bought a house and am required for the day. I shall not have any spare time.’
He went to another and said to him, ‘My master invites you.’ He said to him, ‘My friend is going to get married, and I am to prepare the banquet. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused from the dinner.’
He went to another and said to him, ‘My master invites you.’ He said to him, ‘I have just bought a farm, and I am on my way to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused.’
The servant returned and said to his master, ‘Those whom you invited to the dinner have asked to be excused.’ The master said to his servant, ‘Go outside to the streets and bring back those whom you happen to meet, so that they may dine.’ Businessmen and merchants will not enter the places of my father. (64)
There is a lot of talk about free will, but almost none about the responsibility it entails. Because of our experiences from life to life we tend to project onto God what is really only found among limited humanity. As children we have no say in matters: what we get, we get, and what we do not get, we do not get. So it is assumed that it is the same with God: God either gives, refuses or takes away and we have no input whatsoever. But that is wrong. We get what we bring to ourselves by deed and thought. If the right kind of thought and action is not supplied, then it does not occur. We are always in complete charge. God has extended this universe and it operates according to the law of cause and effect which is completely in our hands though we usually do not realize it.
God can offer, but we can refuse. That is what this parable is all about. Lest we deny ourselves something we want, Jesus is showing us the way things really work so we will not blame God rather than ourselves when things do not go as we wish.
In the Gospel of Saint Luke 14:16-24, the reasons people give to excuse themselves from spiritual life and responsibility are given, but here Jesus is revealing the attitudes that bar us from the material and spiritual bounty God would bestow on us. All four excuses deal with money, property, and social obligations. When things and people are uppermost in our minds and hearts we deny ourselves much that could easily be ours. We make no room in our lives for God.
The summation is in the words: “Businessmen and merchants will not enter the places of my father.” Those who make a living rather than make a life, who deal with both earthly life and spiritual life as though they were based on account books, render themselves incapable of relating to either God or man in a meaningful or realistic manner. But especially they alienate themselves from all higher life. Not realizing that material life is only temporary and meant to be eventually left behind, whereas spiritual life is meant to be our permanent future, people render themselves unfit for this life and the next. As a consequence they lose both lives and flounder around from life to life in this unstable and unsatisfying world. Only when things change in their hearts will anything change in their destiny.
Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: Gullibility