Amid the hubbub surrounding Cardinal Timothy Dolan being invited to the Republican and Democratic national conventions, I got to really dwelling on that word.
And have firmly concluded that it’s among the most loaded in the English language.
Inviting is an important enough topic to merit several mentions in the Gospels: John 2, in which Jesus attends the wedding at Cana not simply because he feels like it, but because he was invited; Matthew 22, in which the king invites his servants to a feast but they decline, with grim consequences; and Luke 14, which has Jesus dispensing advice on who to invite and how to proceed when invited.
Inviting and getting invited is mostly a feel-good experience. But who’s never endured hurt feelings and a bruised ego because at some point:
* you awaited an invitation that never came?
* your invitation was declined?
* somebody accepted your invitation but pulled a no-show?
* you invited yourself along and learned the hard way you shouldn’t have?
Lightning rods such as these can spark family feuds and cause fractured friendships — some temporary, others permanent.
The practical application of inviting can be daunting. Consider the hymn "All Are Welcome." Obviously you can’t invite everybody to your dinner party or wedding, yet paring the list inevitably bends a few noses out of shape.
However, this self-reflection also has reminded me of the need to extend invitations in less formal, everyday situations. I do have the power to invite people into my life — and exclude — through my facial expressions, my words, my actions.
Maybe that’s where "All Are Welcome" comes in. If I can go more out of my way to muster an extra smile, kind word or good deed, hopefully that will make me the kind of inviter Christ wants me to be.