Parables of Jesus


Allegorical parables

The big banquet

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The big banquet

From the Gospel of Luke Chapter 14, Verses 16-24
Jesus replied, "A man gave a great dinner and made many invitations. At dinner time, he sent his servant to say to the guests: "Come, everything is ready". But everyone, unanimously, began to apologize. first said: "I bought a field and I have to go see it; please consider me justified. "Another said", I bought five pairs of oxen and I'm going to try them; please consider me justified. "Another said", I have got a wife and therefore I cannot come. "On his return the servant reported all this to the master. Then the host, irritated, said to the servant: "Go out immediately for the squares and in the streets of the city and lead here poor, crippled, blind and lame. "The servant said: "Lord, it was done as you ordered, but there is still room. "The master then said to the servant: "Go out in the streets and along the hedges, push them in, so that my house will fill up. "Because I say to you: None of those men who had been invited will taste my dinner".

Matthew’s Parable exegesis

Luke places the parable in the midst of a wide-ranging discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees, presenting it as a response to the provocation of one of their leaders, whom I had invited him to eat with them but had not failed to observe how his action was not "compliant" with the Law. Jesus' answer is given through this parable, which has as its protagonist a man about to start a great dinner and who, therefore, urges the guests to participate through his servant; with bitter surprise, the players called up do not accept the invitation for many different reasons: the purchase of a field or a pair of oxen, or having just got married; from these justifications emerge, however, the real causes of their refusal: possession, trade and pleasure.

In the Bible, dinner is a recurring image of the salvation that God offers to all peoples. The "servant", named five times in the story of the parable, is Jesus himself, and the hour of the dinner represents the coming of Jesus, which coincides with the wedding banquet.

The refusal of the guests is total: unanimously, they begin to justify themselves, making implausible excuses; ultimately everyone goes to the object of his desire, everyone is fatally drawn to his own treasure. For them, possession, trade and pleasure are more important than God.

The lord does not argue or even insists, but orders the servant: "go out immediately to the squares and streets of the city and bring poor, blind and lame people here". They take the place of the first guests who refused, they are those who the Pharisaic doctrine excluded from the kingdom of God: Jesus also opens up to them the way that leads to the "supper" of the kingdom of God.

The first guests, who refuse the call, are instead those who believe they are saved by their means and by their observances, that is, the Pharisees of all times who, however, due to their refusal to the invitation, will not be justified and will be peremptorily excluded from the Father's supper. The meaning of the parable, in fact, can be integrated by the message that the apostle Paul writes to the community of Rome, recalling the prophecy of Hosea: "I will call my people what was not my people and my loved one who was not loved". And it will happen that, in the very place where they were told: "You are not my people", there they will be called children of the living God".
(Rom 9,25-26).

The Jews thought that the banquet was offered only to them, regardless of their active participation; instead it is open to all peoples, even to those who were considered unclean by the Jews. What was not considered "worthy" is now called the People of God.

Luke specifies that the apologies given by the guests are not in the least sustainable. In fact, nobody bought a field without seeing it first, or bought oxen without trying them, or he could refuse such an invitation because he was just married. Here the fault of the Jewish people is highlighted once again, for not having listened and believed in Jesus, for ignoring and killing the prophets of the past. Luke presents us with the banquet of a "man", who here represents God eager to celebrate the association with his elect (the People of Israel) with a great dinner and who, as a consequence of their refusal, does not cancel the banquet but addresses that invitation to new guests, to his new people formed as much by the Jews as by the gentiles, by the priests as well as by the lame, crippled or pagan.

Luke ends the story with a lapidary sentence, which closes the doors to those who had been originally invited, to open them to the future that now belongs to the new guests. The salvation of the Lord is something as wonderful and generous as a wedding banquet that can be freely extended to those who are starving and cold on the street. This is the amazing message of God's infinite love, something to live and share every day of our lives.