OPTION 1: For us Filipinos and maybe in some other countries, our wedding invitation card, before it is sent out, the date, time and the Church venue of the wedding are stated. But in the normal Jewish customs, an invitation to a great feast like a wedding feast, when sent out, the time was not stated. Only after everything was ready the servants were sent out with a final summons to tell the wedding guests to come. So then, the king in this parable had long ago sent out his invitations but it was not until everything was prepared that the final summons was issued and insultingly refused by the invited wedding guests.
In today’s Gospel (Mt. 22, 1-14), we hear a parable about a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. Those invited did not come for so many reasons, so in the end the king allowed the gates of the his kingdom to be opened to all, and his hall was filled with guests. If there were Filipinos in that crowd, I am sure the place would have been more filled up, what with our penchant for spreading rumors!
And so I would like you to reflect with me, based on the reflection also of Bishop Socrates Villegas in his homily book, Love Like Jesus, by which he invited us to remember three I’s in this Sunday’s gospel. Why three I’s? It is because the three things that we will reflect begin with the letter “I.” it means in Cebuano as “Ako” when it is used to refer to me or to you.
The first I in today’s Sunday gospel reading is Invitation. Our Lord is inviting us to be with Him, to come to Him, to come to His Kingdom which is described like a wedding feast where everybody are with joyful faces and dressed in their best clothes. He invites us to be closed to Him at all times. It is because if we are going to compare our Christian religion with Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Voodoo religion and other world religions, in them it is the people who look for God .but in the case of Christianity, it is God who looks for us. This truth can be seen in some other parables of Jesus that is God who looks for the lost sheep and the lost coin. And so it is God who takes the first initiative for our salvation.
God is also inviting us to be always vibrant or alive, fresh and happy in our spiritual life. That is why according to Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD, in his book, Shared Moments, we must always be BAGETSSSS, that is: Balik Panginoon (or Return to God). Whenever we fall or commit sin, make a good confession; Alis galit (or free yourself from angry). Do not carry useless junk and heavy metals in our hearts but forgive; Gawa mabuti (or do good deeds). While you live, help, share, give and do good; Express your love to anybody. Take time to relate with our God. Let people especially our loved ones, know and feel our love for them; Tanggal Bisyo (or get rid of vices). Take the “road less travelled,” the road of clean living, sanctity and holiness; Sakripisyo (or sacrifice). Take up the spirit of penance in your life because doing the things above entails a lot of sacrifices; Smile or do everything with joy; Secret or do everything with love that seeks not recognition or vain glory but God’s approval. And I will add another S, that is, Sure. Let us make it sure that we will everything stated above, “Pag-sure ba.”
The second I for today’s gospel is Indifference. One of the presidents of the United States said that the enemy of the good is best. In other words, we are contented with what is minimal. We don’t want to move in order to acquire the best. They are generally engaged in legitimate, not sinful activity. One goes to his farm, another to his business. These are necessary and useful occupations. But the truth is we are satisfied with what is good. Those invited guests were not evil ones. They did not do any worst things. Any responsible person should attend to his livelihood and to his responsibilities, or else his family will suffer. Actually many good things go wrong in society because people neglect these. In Jesus’ time, a king enjoyed absolute power over people and refusing his invitation was an act of defiance and rebellion. Those who defied the order had to be crashed. In the parable, the king was unusually kind by extending a second invitation and stressing its urgency since everything was ready. People chose, however, to live by other priorities. They were indifferent to the invitation of the king of the king who is God Himself. Imagine God Himself is inviting us and then we have the guts to say God: ‘No I have other things and priorities to do.” How can we be busy for an invitation like that.
Few people choose to reject God but many but many of us simply have no time for Him because we have other priorities which are not necessarily immoral like: our social obligations, the need for relaxation, the pressure of work, our time with our family, the demands of friends which leave us no time for prayer or for Sunday Mass.. It is easier for us to erase our regular prayer time schedule when it is in conflict with some other schedules. Sometimes what keeps us away from the joy of the kingdom is not sin but preoccupation with the necessities of life; with the 5 Ps (Pera, Pride, Power, Pleasure and Problems). To be serious with our job is a good thing, but when our job keeps us away from attending the Lord’s Supper then it has become an obstacle. Let us have more time with God.
The third I is Inappropriate, that is, inappropriately dressed. Maybe this person has a reason to give why he was not wearing wedding dress since he was taken in the street and brought to the wedding banquet due to the urgency of the invitation. But Jesus has other purpose why He mentions this. It is because some of us come to Mass which are not properly dressed. Some of us come to Mass also, which is the banquet of the Lord, which are not properly disposed. We are physically present but mentally absent. Instead of concentrating and thinking about God during the celebration of the Mass, our minds are nowhere to be found. We think of other things. How are we in the table of the banquet of the Lord? Are our spirits appropriately prepared for that beautiful banquet that God prepares for us?
The insistence also on the wedding dress is a warning to each one of us. We must clothe ourselves in the dress of virtuous living. Mere membership in the Church does not guarantee us salvation. To share of the kingdom of God in the next life we must all bear fruit in this.
One way of having a virtuous living is having the 4 GH, that is, Good Head or continue doing the intellectual formation, Good Health or takes care of your own health, Good Hand or do the work properly and Good Heart or have kindness, generosity, love and others for other people.
As was the case with the wedding guests, we make mistakes in life, not because we do evil things but because we fail to do the most important, that is to heed and come to the lord’s invitation for life.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A