The Gospel according to Matthew (22:1-14)
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and 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 wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
I think that today’s gospel, like many other similar scripture passages containing severe consequences, often distract us from the generosity and fidelity of God. And although we understand there are always consequences, good or bad, for our choices we tend to focus on the suffering for bad ones. I have always tended to be a “the glass is half full” kind of person. And as a father, grandfather, and now elder in my community I can absolutely relate to the various reactions to Our Father’s invitation to participate in and enjoy His blessings. We raised our children, and to a great extent our grandchildren, to recognize and respond to God’s call. But like many of today’s families they have made different choices. Do I love them any less? NO!! I will continue to walk with and ALWAYS love them.
As a mother, grandmother, and godmother I am concerned and want all my loved ones to partake in the banquet in the kingdom of heaven. This past Sunday, we celebrated my parent’s 65th Wedding anniversary with mass (where they renewed their vows) followed by a reception at our home. I invited my siblings, all our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Not everyone attended mass due to choices they have made in their religious beliefs and Covid. I was disappointed that even though most of them were baptized Catholics and attended Catholic elementary and high school many were not present. I observed (trying not to judge) as some came in late and seemed so unfamiliar with the ritual of our mass. It was very difficult, but I had to remind myself that we must continue praying for them, respect their choices, and love them unconditionally as our Lord does.
The mercy and compassion of God often gets overlooked and replaced by a God who judges and punishes. We hope this experience does not dominate our relationship with him or those we care for. Our work in the His kingdom will always include its challenges, but we are so blessed to call upon our Father to help us prepare for the banquet that awaits all who choose His generous offer.
Action of the Day:
Never grow weary of praying for and inviting others to the banquet. Reach out to someone you have not spoken to recently. Make arrangements to get togther and share your joys and struggles, and the gift of life. God is in our midst. He is the reason we live in hope for a banquet hall that overflows with those who are prepared to answer His call.