Spanish-American George Santayana wrote (in The Life of Reason, 1905): “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Winston Churchill outlined this reality quite well in 1935, rather ominously foreboding another world war in the future, with the following words:
“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.” (House of Commons, 2 May 1935. Source: Churchill Museum)
We see this playing out today in this Gospel passage. Jesus' parable works in two directions. Looking back into the past, the Kingdom of heaven was a free invitation God offered to His chosen people of Israel, sending the prophets ahead of Him to invite them to the banquet to which the Messiah would lead them. But they failed to accept that invitation, and the city of Jerusalem, including the Lord's Temple, was burnt to the ground for their lack of fidelity to the Lord's covenants. But looking to the future, jesus foretells the reality that is unfolding before their eyes: the leaders are again rejecting the invitation that Jesus offers them into the great feast of heaven, the will indeed kill Him, and later on, when the apostles try to preach the Lord's Resurrection and the wedding feast of the Lamb, they'll be kicked out of the temples and synagogues again and again. Then, around 70AD, the temple will be destroyed for the second time. History will repeat itself if we are too stiff-necked and hard-hearted to make the difficult changes they demand of us.
This seems to be a disease of humanity. We are too often "unteachable" (as Churchill said) whenever we fail make the tough adjustments that history demands of us, which ultimately means conversion. Anyone who makes a regular examination of conscience knows this, too. The fact is: sometimes we let evil win by lack of foresight, poor counsel, laziness, or lack of vision of the ultimate goal.
Fixing that lack of vision is exactly what Jesus has been doing for us these past weeks with these parables. Every single parable has mentioned "The Kingdom of God" or "The Kingdom of Heaven." Jesus wants us to think about heaven, he wants us to have a vision so that we can have the enthusiasm to go after the goal, the focus to run the race of life. One thing you can do this week is spend some time reading that vision in the Sunday Gospels of past weeks - just think about what God's Kingdom, heaven, is like. Last week we saw how heaven is a vineyard that is meant to produce an abundant harvest of grapes. On Sept. 28th the Kingdom goes to the son who obeys God's word with deeds. The week before that it is the reward of a hard day's work (even when we don't fully deserve it). Before that (if it wasn't trumped by Sept. 14th's feast of the Exaltation of the Cross) the kingdom of heaven is a place where we forgive others because our master has forgiven us so much more.
And today, Heaven is a banquet that the King Himself invites you to. If Pope Francis sent a bishop to your doorstep to invite you to a dinner, you probably wouldn't say, "sorry but we have a soccer game," or "my house is a mess" or "I just need to relax today." Well, God isn't Pope Francis, or rather, Pope Francis isn't God, so let's not allow any excuses keep us from the invitation to heaven that God Himself invites us to for our eternity. Furthermore, don't let those things keep you from Mass on Sundays, which is the true wedding feast of the lamb, as the priest says every time he elevates the host before communion time: "Blessed are those called to the supper of the lamb". You are called. Experience the joy of that call. Leave behind the less important things and get that deeper spiritual vision of what life is really all about. When you spend time seeing what the Kingdom of Heaven is like, your hearts will start burning in a way they never have, and you will be happier, more peaceful, more effective in your daily works, and a more joyful witness of God's love to others. Don't let history repeat itself again: accept the King’s invitation, make the changes you need, and come, join the feast!