The Word of God

Excuses, Excuses


Reflection on Mass Reading for November 5, 2019

“A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many.” Today, we have the conclusion of the three-part, truth-laden, and event-filled description of one powerful dinner attended by Jesus and many other characters which make up Chapter 14 of St. Luke’s Gospel. You may recall that earlier parts one and two were presented: the first involved the man inflicted and cured of dropsy and the second about people scrambling for the best seats at table, partly because of honor and partly because they would be served first. Part three is about excuses and why we make them.

Time for Vocabulary: Concupiscence – This term can refer to any intense form of human desire. It comes down to meaning anything that compels us to act or make a choice that is against the use of our reason and rational abilities. Concupiscence was born out of the Original Sin of disobedience and induces us to commit sins. St. John describes three kinds of this craving: 1 John 2:16: “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, (1) sensual lust, (2) enticement for the eyes, and (3) a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.”

Now, let’s return to the dinner in the Gospel and the man who prepares the feast and invites many who is Jesus who came to save the lost in Israel and all of humanity. Jesus sent His Apostles to call and invite but many did not accept: “he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, ‘Come…’ but one by one, they all began to excuse themselves.” Take a look at the excuses that are presented in light of the new word we learned today, Concupiscence: “I have purchased a field and must go to examine it” (3) a pretentious life;  “I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them” (2) enticement for the eyes;  “I have just married a woman” (1) sensual lust. Please keep in mind that all these things are good in and of themselves, but remember that these are the “excuses” that are presented as more important than accepting the invitation of Christ to each of us. The sixth Commandment addresses our need for a pure heart “to see God,” while the ninth describes the struggle with carnal desires and the last Commandment about greed and the preoccupation over possessions. Given a talent by God is tantamount to being invited to dine with Him in the Kingdom. Which is precisely why we are called by the Readings today to focus our attention on how to live day by day using all that He has given us. Not only to discover His will for us, but also to love,  live and build up the Body of Christ: “We, though many, are one Body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them.”

“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.” Edward R. Murrow

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