A Woman Gave a Great Dinner to Which She Invited Many

Brunswick Monogrammist (fl. 1525-1545), "Parable of the Great Banquet"
Brunswick Monogrammist (fl. 1525-1545), "Parable of the Great Banquet" (photo: Register Files)

Kari Duane inherently understands the parable of the wedding banquet.

And I think we all can learn something from her.

Kari Duane is the 53-year-old mother of Quinn Duane. Quinn was engaged to a young man named Landon Burop, and they had planned to be married October 17 in a lavish California wedding.

Just days before the wedding Landon got cold feet and called off the wedding.

That’s when Kari Duane did something remarkable, and whether she realizes it or not, mirrored the parable of the wedding banquet found in the Gospel of Luke (Lk 14:7-14).

Duane decided to carry on with the $35,000, 120-guest banquet. But, she changed the guest list.

Instead of inviting the original set of relatives and friends, Kari Duane opened the doors of the banquet hall to the homeless.

“When I found out on Monday that the wedding would not be taking place, it just seemed like, of course, this would be something that we would do to give back,” Mrs. Duane told Sacramento television station, KCRA.

And give she did. The banquet hall was filled with people who otherwise never could afford such a fine meal—salmon and steak plus salad, cauliflower, and gnocchi as appetizers.

Quinn, understandably, did not feel up to attending the banquet herself. But Kari did, and both mother and daughter were happy to see people enjoy the food.

This is a wonderful story on so many levels.

First, of course, it models what Jesus taught about generosity and giving to those who are unable to give back.

“Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous,” our Lord told his disciples. (see Lk 14:13-14)

I have no doubt that the Duane family will be greatly blessed for what they’ve done.

Second, there’s making the best of a bad situation.

On a surface level, I think Mrs. Duane is one classy lady. She handled what could have been a disaster with dignity and finesse. She took the lemons that were handed to her by a foiled wedding and made exquisite lemonade out of them. And it was lemonade that benefitted others who are less fortunate to boot.

Third, Kari Duane gave honor to her daughter.

Look, it’s a tough situation no matter how you look at it. Skipping the whose-fault-is-whose and you-don’t-know-the-whole-story factors (I don’t), one or the other fiancé backing out of a wedding is heartbreaking agony from both sides of the coin. But often, it’s harder on the one left behind.

Quinn Duane was the one left behind, but Kari used this situation as a testament to the worth and beauty of her daughter. It brings tears to my eyes.

Kari could have trashed all the plans (perhaps literally, depending on how much had been prepared ahead of time). Instead, she put all of her daughter’s hard work, hopes and dreams to good use.

By doing that, Kari Duane made sure that the banquet that was meant to celebrate love in fact became the banquet that celebrated love—love for God and love for our fellow human beings.

This is what Christ wants of all his disciples.

As if transforming the wedding banquet wasn’t enough, Kari is doing one more thing to honor her daughter.

Kari will transform the honeymoon, also.

Instead of a bride-and-groom trip to Belize as originally planned, this one will be a mother-and-daughter trip to Belize. Kari and Quinn will go together.

What Kari Duane has done takes courage, resolve, and a big heart. I’d like to say that I’d do the same thing in the same situation. But, would I?

I can only hope and pray that I would. And, I can keep reminding myself—in both the big and small things—that my repayment isn’t here and now, but at the resurrection of the righteous.