Thursday, August 21, 2014

He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. – St John

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 different characters appearing in the parable may 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 as 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 actions. 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).

In God’s promise to cleanse us and make us holy, God recognizes our need for guidance. Our salvation is not a one-time pronouncement, but an invitation to a sustaining relationship. Because we are so prone to wandering, God sets up a relationship in which we are constantly engaged in renewal through the presence of the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments of the Church. The Church helps us practice that relationship through a spirit within us that creates a relationship of joy in salvation, not bondage to law. In order for that relationship to sustain us, we need a willing spirit that comes from knowing that we are God’s people in community. We are invited to enter into the relationship with an attitude of humility. We are not invited to bring sacrifices and offerings, but simply our contrite hearts.

It seems to me then, that the invitation into the Kingdom of heaven is a generous offer that should not be ignored or mistaken as recognition of our goodness or worthiness. It is a daily invitation to affirm our relationship with God. The attitude of our response in affirming that relationship should be one of humility and joy. This attitude we need to bring with us when we worship and live out our daily lives.

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