Thursday, August 19, 2010

Someday is not a day of the week

You may delay, but time will not. ~Benjamin Franklin

Gospel text (Mt 22:1-14): Jesus began to address the chief priests and elders of the people, once more using parables: «This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven. A king celebrated the wedding of his son. He sent his servants to call the invited guests to the wedding feast, but the guests refused to come. Again he sent other servants ordering them to say to the invited guests: ‘I have prepared a banquet, slaughtered my fattened calves and other animals, and now everything is ready; come then, to the wedding feast’. But they paid no attention and went away, some to their fields, and others to their work. While the rest seized the servants of the king, insulted them and killed them. The king became angry. He sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city.

»Then he said to his servants: ‘The wedding banquet is prepared, but the invited guests were not worthy. Go, then, to the crossroads and invite everyone you find to the wedding feast’. The servants went out at once into the streets and gathered everyone they found, good and bad alike, so that the hall was filled with guests. The king came in to see those who were at table, and he noticed a man not wearing the festal garment. So he said to him: ‘Friend, how did you get in without the wedding garment?’ But the man remained silent. So the king said to his servants: ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the dark where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth’. Know that many are called, but few are chosen».

We can imagine Jesus telling this story today. How often does it seem that we who have been invited to be part of the kingdom of heaven, simply take it for granted. We can unconsciously act as though, "well, if I don't do anything seriously wrong, I'm in. What more do I need to worry about?"

In this gospel it is clear that our holiness has to "surpass that of the scribes and pharisees." (Mt. 5:20) Jesus wants us to know that it is "mercy that I desire, not sacrifice." (Mt. 9:13) And, one of his final parables will tell us that our judgment - the decision about whether we ultimately will enter the Kingdom of heaven - depends upon whether we care for the "least of my brothers and sisters" - feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and imprisoned. (Mt. 25)

But the different characters appearing in the parable may also be images of the different states of our soul. Thanks to the grace of baptism we are God's friends and inheritors along with Christ: we have a place reserved for us in this banquet. If, however, we forget our condition of sons, God proceeds to treat us as acquaintances while maintaining his invitation. If we let the grace within us to die, then we become people found in any crossroad, just passers-by without a penny in matters of the Kingdom. Yet, God keeps on calling us.

His call may reach us any time. It is by personal invitation. Nobody has any right to be there. It is God who finds us and tells us: «Come to the wedding!». And we have to receive this invitation with words and the way we live our lives. This is why that guest who was not properly dressed is thrown out: «Friend, how did you get in without the wedding garment?» (Mt 22:12).

Today, let's ask for the grace to receive the invitation worthily. Let us respond more and more fully to Jesus' invitation to love as we have been loved. Let us see, feel, and act upon the invitation to eternal life by dying to ourselves a bit more today, particularly in each of our relationships. Let's forget about our own wounds and become healers of others' wounds. Let us open our hearts to hear the cries of all those who are poor and on the margins of our societies. Let us ask ourselves how we can respond, what role we can take, how we can make a difference. Today, let's put on a wedding garment, committing ourselves, and witnessing to everyone, that we are ready for the banquet of heaven.

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