“Choose well. Your choice is brief, and yet endless.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: (1749 – 1832: German poet, playwright and statesman)
Gospel Text: (MT 22:1-14)
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying,
“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
The invitation from God to holiness is an invitation of joy -- likened to a magnificent banquet! Responding to the invitation from God to embrace a life of holiness does not yield a life of gloom and hard sacrifices; but happiness and contentment. It does not yield misery; but celebration. It does not yield sadness; but laughter. It lasts not for a week; but for eternity. No wedding gift is required -- simply a heart filled response to the invitation. Further, we must remember that the king is not obliged to invite anyone to the wedding feast; rather it is a free act of kindness -- it is all gift. Similarly, God is not obliged to invite us either; rather it is all done out of divine love for his creation.
Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.
Not all the invitees joined in the violent melee against the messenger-servants of the King. Some simply weighed work on their farms to be more important than the wedding feast. Others decided that their businesses needed to come first.
Sometimes our lack of response to the call of holiness from God is not consciously deliberate. Our lack of a response is not calculated and forceful; rather our lopsided priorities cause us to lose sight of the invitation and lose sight of the need to make a conscious response. In other words, one might subconsciously surmise: God is eternal; but my farm or business is seasonal. God can wait -- God is patient. What is important now is that I make hay while the sun shines.
Have we turned down invitations from God without truly recognizing their magnitude or their personal nature?