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By Fr Dwight Longenecker

11/6/2012 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (

A great man sends out the dinner invitations. We get the impression that he's a king or a wealthy landowner. To have dinner with him is a big deal. It's an honor to be invited to one of his classy dinner parties. Among the guests he sends an invitation to Old MacDonald. What happens?


By Fr Dwight Longenecker

Catholic Online (

11/6/2012 (4 years ago)

Published in Year of Faith

GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) I'm not talking about the fast food restaurant. I'm talking about the song you used to sing in first grade. You know the one: "Old MacDonald had a farm. Ee eye ee eye oh. And on that farm he had a .."

This is what comes from the gospel today. A great man sends out the dinner invitations. We get the impression that he's a king or a wealthy landowner. To have dinner with him is a big deal. It's an honor to be invited to one of his classy dinner parties. Among the guests he sends an invitation to Old MacDonald. What happens?

Old MacDonald had a farm. Old MacDonald had a cow. Old MacDonald had a wife. Ee eye ee eye oh. He can't come to the dinner because he has a farm. He can't come to the dinner because he has a cow. He can't come to the dinner because he has a wife.

The list could go on and on: "I can't come to Mass because I have to work. I can't come to Mass because the kids have a volleyball game. I can't come to Mass because my mother in law is visiting. I can't come to Mass because it's raining. I can't come to Mass because it's such a nice day." The list of excuses goes on and on. Quack quack here quack quack there here a quack there a quack everywhere a quack quack. Old MacDonald had a farm.

Old MacDonald Catholics allow everything else to come before the Lord. Today's gospel--with it's emphasis on the Lord's dinner that was rejected--is a clear teaching on those who reject the fellowship meal which is the divine sacrifice of the Mass. Rejecting an invitation to dinner is a perfect illustration of just what happens when Catholics don't go to Mass.

When Catholics make excuses for not going to Mass they don't give much thought to what they are really rejecting. If they did give it much thought they would not reject the dinner invitation. What happens at Mass is that Jesus Christ the Lord not only invites us to a fellowship meal that we share with one another. He invites us to participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

God's Son Jesus Christ the Lord was sacrificed once for all on the hill outside Jerusalem. His death is re-presented at every Mass. That means it is brought into the present moment and applied to the needs of those present and the needs of the whole world.

Through the sacrifice of the Mass Jesus Christ--the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is really and truly present. Therefore, when you reject the Lord's dinner invitation you are really rejecting him.
The Catholic Church continues to teach that it is every Catholic's solemn obligation and joyful privilege to attend Mass every Sunday. This is a Catholic's first priority.

The Scripture says to Love the Lord with all our mind, heart and spirit. The Ten Commandments teach us to keep Sunday holy. Going to Mass is how we fulfill these commands. We're invited to the Lord's dinner, but we make excuses. Like Old MacDonald we have a farm. We have a cow. We have a wife. Ee eye ee eye oh.

When we make Sunday Mass a priority however, everything else soon falls into place as well. It's logical. When you put Mass first on Sunday--when you make that the first and most important thing on your calendar (rather than something you will do if you can fit it in) then immediately everything else snaps into place behind it. Those worries about money? Those fears of bad health? Those relationship problems? Those problems at work? Those concerns about your family? Your worries about the farm, the cow, the wife? All these things are seen to be second place when you put God first. Ee eye ee eye yo!

It's all there in the gospel where Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be added to you." When you put Mass first in your life, then you're putting God first in your life. By simply getting up and getting yourself to church you're saying to God. "You're number one in my life!"

The rest of life may be a struggle, but if you really do put God first and then throughout the week continue to put him first, then your other worries and fears and concerns will drift away. You'll have the faith and courage to solve the problems you can solve and you'll have the faith and courage to endure the problems you cannot solve. Why worry when you can pray? Ee eye ee eye yo!

Finally, remember what happens at the end of the gospel. Others are invited to take the place of those who rejected the invitation. Then the Lord says to the servants about those who rejected him, "They will never eat of the dinner."

The dinner of the Lord is not just the Eucharist. It also stands for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb is the great wedding feast of heaven--when Christ and his bride the Church (that's you and me) are finally united forever. That's the great dinner we are invited to. The Holy Mass is a foretaste of the real thing. It's sort of like the rehearsal dinner  that happens before the wedding and the wedding reception.

Those who reject the Lord's invitation to the Holy Mass each week. The Old MacDonalds who think the worldly concerns of their farm, their cow and their wife are more important may find that they are not welcome at that other feast. They may find that the doors are closed. The party has begun and they are not included. Think of the regret when they realize they have chosen their worldly concerns over the invitation to the glorious and eternal feast of heaven. Think of the regret when they are left out in the dark and the cold where there is weeping and wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

Ee eye ee eye uh-oh.

Fr Dwight Longenecker is the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina.  His latest book, Catholicism Pure and Simple. Visit his blog and sign up for Faith Works! his free, weekly newsletter on the practical practice of the Catholic faith here.


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