Thursday, August 23, 2012

The national anthem of hell is, "I Did It My Way."

'Do not be deceived; there are only two roads: one that leads to life and is narrow; the other that leads to death and is wide. There is no middle way.'- St. Louis Marie de Montfort

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».

The point of this parable?
Simply accepting God’s invitation doesn’t guarantee us a place at his banquet. If we want to enter the kingdom, we have to be wearing the garments of repentance and a changed life. Following Jesus requires “putting on” the attitudes, values, and behaviors of the kingdom—faith, charity, and good deeds. As St. Paul told the Colossians, we need to “take off the old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed … in the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9-10).

The guest in unsuitable clothing in today’s gospel passage hadn’t put off his sinful ways and wasn’t bearing—or wearing—the fruit of repentance. It’s true that God may patiently tolerate the presence of “good and bad alike” for a time. But on judgment day, those who lack the wedding garment of conversion will not be welcomed at his feast. So be sure to put on your own wedding garment—and keep it on!

With that being said, the unfortunate reality today is when we hear the word "hell" used frequently in the workplace, on TV and radio, in all types of popular music, at the ball games — its true meaning is ignored. Hell is the "state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God" (Catechism, 1033). In fact, many people don’t even believe in the destination of “Hell” at all these days.

If we ignore the real possibility that we could freely choose eternity in hell over an eternity with Jesus, we ignore the serious effects of sin. We deny the need to be saved from our sins. Thus, we make ourselves a god.

His call may reach us any time. It is by personal invitation. Nobody has any right to go to heaven. It is God who finds us and tells us: «Come to the wedding!». And we have to receive this invitation with words and most importantly by how we live our day to day 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).

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