Thursday, August 22, 2013

“We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners.”

"In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel." - Saint Teresa Of Avila

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.”

This is the wedding feast! In other words, we aren’t automatically divinized, there is some action on the part of our own freedom that accepts what God is offering. One has to embrace the life of God’s reign with Jesus and through the Holy Spirit. Mary, symbol for the Church, is the “bride” who is crowned queen of God’s reign – and all of us are invited to be as Mary is, perfectly docile to the desire of God for us – which ultimately is our perfect joy in participation at the Banquet of God.

In the same way, the man at the end of Jesus’ parable was out of place. He chose not to wear the wedding garment provided for him, in a sense snubbing the king’s generous offer to clothe him with dignity. We can liken this to the clothing of the saints in heaven, “the righteous deeds of the holy ones” spoken of in the Scriptures (Revelation 19:8; Zephaniah 1:7-8). We may think he was treated harshly, but it’s actually what he chose for himself. For the wedding garment—the righteousness available through Jesus’ sacrifice—was his for the taking. He just didn’t put it on!

You too have been invited to a wedding banquet, the “feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:19). You will never receive an invitation more important than this one. So don’t stick it in a drawer. Get ready! Take the grace you have been given and respond to it as best you can. Dedicate yourself to a life of virtue and holiness, which is a fruit of a Sacramental life and daily prayer. Cultivate your friendship with, and your love for, the bridegroom. Clothe yourself every day in “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 4:12).

As long as you are trying to love, you need never fear ending up like this unfortunate man.

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