Jesus told a parable about a certain man who prepared a huge banquet and invited a great many people to come and enjoy it. But right away, the excuses began to come in. Two of those excuses were immortalized in the old song, “I Cannot Come.” (Medical Missionary Sisters, 1965). Those two excuses were, “I have married a wife” and “I have bought me a cow.” (As very young sisters we used to sing, “I have bought me a wife… I have married a cow!” We thought we were clever!)
The man is understandably upset. He orders his servants to go and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. They do so, but there are still empty chairs in the banquet hall. So the man sends his servants out again to the “highways and hedgerows” for more people, and soon the banquet room is filled to capacity.
What about us? We readily receive invitations from Jesus under the umbrella invitation, “Come, follow me.” Often that means doing a “Jesus-like-thing” in some specific way. Some sample invitations are the following:
* be more patient with her
* speak more gently to him
* spend more time with your loved ones
* call your mother (or father, grandmother, grandfather, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, friend)
* tell the truth
* send that donation to your struggling alma mater
* write that email to your congressman/woman
* give a hand with that parish project
* smile more
* slow down
* drive more graciously
* let that person go ahead of you in line
* complain less
* thank a stranger
* get more involved in that vital issue of our day
* look at those flowers… that lake… those wispy clouds… those birds
* talk to me.
What excuses do we come up with to avoid these invitations, these urgings, these promptings of the Spirit? In case you can’t think of any, I have come up with a short list of 20 excuses to use for a wide variety of occasions. No need to fumble for an excuse any more. Just post these excuses on your desk, near your phone, or on your bathroom mirror. The next time you feel the Spirit inviting you to do something you don’t want to do, just say one of these:
- I’m too busy.
- I’m too tired.
- I’m too old (too young, too middle-aged)
- I’m no expert. Leave that to the professionals.
- Later. Not now.
- Ask someone else to do it.
- I’m not feeling very well.
- I have enough on my plate already.
- I’m too shy.
- It’s none of my business.
- I’m not good at that kind of thing. That’s not where my talents lie.
- I’ve never done anything like that before.
- I’m afraid.
- I’m learning to say “no.”
- I can’t hear you.
- Why me?
- Wait until I get my life in order first.
- That’s not my style of spirituality.
- How do I know this urging is even coming from Jesus?
- I don’t want to.
What excuses do you use the most to get out of doing certain things? How valid are they?
What excuse is the flimsiest. Why?
What excuse(s) would you add to this list?
PS: These past two weeks I’ve given two talks. On March 13 I spoke to some parishioners from Holy Spirit Church in Avon, OH. They came out to see our new Notre Dame Village on our provincial center property in Chardon. I enjoyed them very much! I want to thank Cynthia and Sr. Connie for taking care of the details. Then on March 21 I led a morning retreat for a group of women at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Chagrin Falls, OH. They too were an attentive and fun group to be with. Special thanks to Sr. Ann Marie and her committee for making the retreat run so smoothly! My next talk is April 10 at a luncheon for the Breath of Life group at St. Noel Parish in Willoughby Hills, OH. Then I’ll be flying to Florida to give a retreat in the St. Petersburg’s diocese on Saturday, April 27. Thank you for your prayers for these talks and retreats!
Below are two versions of the song I referred to earlier: “I Cannot Come.” The first uses visuals… the second shows the lyrics:
Here is the song with lyrics:
I’d like to invite you to respond to this reflection below… No excuses! (hee! hee!)