GOSPEL REFLECTION: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
12th October 2014
by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
GOSPEL: (Matthew 22:1-14)
Once more Jesus spoke to the chief priests and Pharisees in parables: "The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.
Again he sent other slaves, saying, "Tell those who have been invited: "Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet." But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
"Then he said to his slaves, "The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet." Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him."Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?" And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, "Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." For many are called, but few are chose,"
During these past few Sundays, we were treated with some inspiring and powerful messages from the Gospel of Matthew. And they have something in common. All of them point to the Lord's invitation and how we respond to it.There is this idea of invitation and being invited which so implies that in the Kingdom of God no one indeed is forced to respond. It is always a choice and personal decision whether to respond freely and joyfully or simply ignore and or refuse the invitation.
In today's Gospel text, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a great wedding feast."The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son." The king sent forth his messengers to invite certain people, but none of them responded. And for the second time, he sent again a group of messengers to invite people, bu they not only reject the invitation, some of them even beat and killed the messengers. In which of course we were told that they suffered the consequences of their action. Finally, the king ordered his servants to invite everyone good or bad. So the hall was filled with guests.
The idea of the wedding banquet seemed so close to the heart of Jesus. In some cases, he even refers himself to a bridegroom waiting for his bride.It may be of significance too that the first miracle performed by our Lord Jesus here on earth transpired in a wedding banquet at Cana where he transformed water into wine. The wedding at Cana was considered as Jesus' first public ministry.
What then is this particular text telling us about? I'd like to give herewith two important insights.
First, God's invitation is for everyone. The invitations were sent out to everyone, good or bad, rich or poor, young or old, men or women - everyone without discrimination and exception.God never rejects anyone.That's good news. This invitation reflects a forgiving, accepting and a loving God. The problem lies therefore not on the part of God but on the part of men. While all are invited yet not everyone responded. Can you imagine the preparation made by the host to give a great feast only to be ignored and rejected? God is inviting us, an invitation that we couldn't refuse. It is an invitation to come to the feast (His Kingdom), to rejoice, to share in His happiness, to know him personally and to experience His love. It's an opportunity of a lifetime. Who wouldn't take that opportunity of knowing Jesus deeply and experience His love?
This reminds me of a story as told by Fr. Bel San Luis. There is a story about a learned master deliberating with his disciples on the difference between KNOWLEDGE and ENLIGHTENMENT.He said, "When you have knowledge, you use a torch to show the way."
"But when you are enlightened, you become the torch."
Likewise, When you have knowledge about Jesus you use it to show the way.
But when you are enlightened about Jesus, you become like Jesus." Knowing something about Jesus is different from knowing him personally. Our Lord's invitation is for us to come to know him deeply. It is about entering into an intimate communion with Him and in Him.
Second, Yes, indeed we are blessed that we are invited and we responded. But it is not enough that we responded. It demands responsibility on our part. In the Parable, the king noticed a man not wearing proper dress for the occasion. The man was thrown out of the wedding banquet. When one is invited to a party, there should be a proper dress code. It is always indicated in the invitation whether the guests are expected to come in casual or formal attire. And that should be respected. Coming to a wedding not properly dressed was to be considered an insult to the host as well as to the newly wedded couple. Everyone is welcome provided you are properly dressed for the occasion.There should be no excuse for not wearing an appropriate clothes. it only takes some efforts, maybe to borrow or to ask from the king himself who would be willing to buy clothing for the guests.
Why is the wedding garments important? What is its significance? I could see the connection of the wedding garments whenever I administer the sacrament of Baptism in which the priest say "Receive this white garment, the outward sign of your Christian dignity.You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven." To be properly dressed is to maintain our Christian dignity i.e. to clothe ourselves in Christ , to surround ourselves with holiness. Being properly dressed means living a good Christian lives. Holiness is our identity. We are a holy people of God. It is who we are and strive to be.
Our life here on earth is but a preparation to be meeting the bridegroom- Our Lord Jesus Christ. As we wait for the occasion we begin now to prepare our garment. We are all sinners. We may feel unworthy.But never be afraid of responding to this invitation of God. He will guide us, He will give us the strength and the graces to make us worthy of His Kingdom.