Thursday of the 20th Week of the Year

Matt 22:1-14

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

When I get irritated or upset by a person who committed a mistake or lousily performed his/her duty/responsibility I used to say: “You’re hopeless!” I knew all the while that this unchristian and unbecoming expression gave the impression that a person is beyond redemption.

This is not the way God treats us. In the first reading, Yahweh calls prophet Ezekiel to prophesy to his exiled people in the land of the Chaldeans by the banks of Kebar. His main message is HOPE! This is expressed in these beautiful words: “I will give you a new heart…” ( 36:22).

God knows His people very well. He is mindful of their defiance, stubbornness, callousness and unfaithfulness; yet he never gives up on them! For him, they are not hopeless. They are redeemable!

The attitude of God is implicitly revealed in today’s gospel. The King might be hurt by the guests’ refusal to accept his invitation; nevertheless, he opens his invitation to all people when he says: “The banquet is prepared; but the invited guests were not worthy. Go then, to the crossroads and invite everyone you find to the wedding feast,” (vv. 8-9). Indeed, God wants his banquet to be filled with a lot of people.

God’s salvation had been offered first to the Jews; unfortunately, they refused it; then it had been given to the Gentiles who were found worthy of it. It means God’s salvation is universal.

Sometimes we have a narrow understanding of salvation. It is not to escape from hell or punishment but to reach perfection. Holiness, goodness and perfection is for all people regardless of religious affiliation and belief. Jesus died for all people! (Fr. Jerome Cayetano, SVD Bible Diary 2004)

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We sometimes make foolish statements, even foolish promises, which later we regret. For instance, we may say: “I will never ask anything from you again” when we have been refused something. Then later, we are too proud to go back on our word. Herod made a foolish promise under oath to his stepdaughter: “Whatever you ask, I will give you.” Morally he should not have proceeded with the beheading of John the Baptist, since one is never obliged to carry out a sinful promise of oath. So with the rash oath of Jephte. Perhaps he was in good faith in sacrificing his daughter, but such an oath was nevertheless rash and thoughtless and should not have been carried out.

As it is easy to make foolish statements and promises, it is even easier to make excuses. We think up all kinds of reasons to avoid things we don’t like to do. Jesus invites all Catholics to go Mass. We priest and religious are invited – even obliged – to pray the liturgy of the hours, to spend time daily in meditation and reading the scripture, but how easy it is to say that we have no time. Some people will say: “I don’t have time to pray, or attend Mass” but they can spend hours drinking with their friends, gambling or going to the cockpit, or watching TV. We always have time for the things we want to do. May all of us listen and respond when the Lord invites us, “Come to the Feast,” come, and be a part of the Christian community, support and help one another. May we avoid making excuses, and also all thoughtless or foolish promises which may even become sinful. (Fr. Jim Risse, SVD Bible Diary 2005)

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Last 2000 a National Mission Congress held in Cebu City highlighted the importance of proclaiming the Word of God to Asians through story telling. In the gospel today, Jesus himself tells us a story, a parable.

Many unusual circumstances are contained in Jesus’ story. First, the guests invited to the wedding are closely related to the bride or the bridegroom: friends, peers and relatives. So invitations to wedding feasts are hardly refused or ignored, much less rejected. Secondly, it is almost unbelievable that the invited guests would mistreat the servants sent to remind them and even kill some of the messengers. Thirdly, it is unthinkable that because of the refusal to come to the wedding feast, the king would send out troops to destroy the murderers and burn the city. Fourthly, it is not normal that because of lack of guests, anyone on the road, good or bad, would be invited to the wedding feast. Can we expect a farmer coming home from the farm or a beggar on the roadside to be worthily dressed for the wedding? Lastly, was it just for the king to punish so severely those who were not worthily dressed by binding them and throwing them into the darkness?

That is the nature of a good parable, exaggerating some points or aspects so that the reader or the listener would not forget the story easily, but rather be led correct to the lesson. In our case, the Lord is reminding us that the invitation to God’s kingdom goes out to all, but there are only few who respond to His call and these are the chosen ones. (Fr. Carlos Lariosa, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

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Wow, an invitation to a royal banquet! The occasion is the wedding of less than the Crown Prince. Strange that some ignored such a royal invitation! Strange that one guest was caught without proper attire! But parables are full of strange details because parables are told to shock, challenge, to wake up a complacent audience. What is Jesus telling us today?

First, while people of other religions often tremble when they approach their gods, our God invites us to His table. And His meal is not a stingy one but a royal banquet. How can one speak then of discipleship as an obligation and burden? God invites over and over again because he is madly in love with humankind and wants all to experience the joy He has prepared. But how often do we have “more important” things to do! After all, we have to earn our living, bring up our children and not to forget; relax a bit. How often do we postpone the acceptance of a divine invitation because we have other priorities!

Second, this invitation to God’s banquet is not a reward for having been good. In his generosity God invites both the bad and the good. We have no right to judge anybody whom we find in our company. After Mass, a certain man came to me and said: “Have you seen that woman in the flimsy red dress. If you would know who and what she is and she dares to come to Mass.” Poor man! He might have just rejected God’s invitation by judging, while “that woman” was most welcome to the Lord.

“Come, the banquet is ready! Come, enjoy what I have prepared for you!” (Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD Bible Diary 2008)

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Whenever there are retirees and board passers, Holy Name University gives them due honor with a free meal and a program. Other employees are also invited to the celebration. But they have to signify in writing their attendance. Only then that we book in a prestigious restaurant on a specific date and time with the exact number of guests. However, during meal time, to our surprise and frustration some invitees don’t shoe up at all. Food ordered just get wasted.

To solve the problem, it is now agreed upon that once an employee signifies in writing his/her attendance, but does not actually come, it would automatically mean Salary Deduction. This administrative approach is just fair and effective.

Today’s gospel tells us that “many are called but a few are chosen,” or many are invited but only few come to the banquet in the kingdom of heaven. Like guests, we are called to share in God’s fullness of life. And this invitation is “catholic,” open to all. The invited guests who ignore the invitation would experience the so-called “salary deduction” – they will miss God’s fullness of life in the heavenly banquet. God is just and fair, the other side of His being merciful and compassionate.

How sincere and generous are we in our response to God’s loving invitation? If we ignore him, then in the end there is eternal regret – a total deduction of life. (Fr. Mio Sombrio, SVD Bible Diary 2009)

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A wedding banquet is one of the most joyous feasts in Jewish lie. In fact it could even last for a week just to lengthen the state of bliss. It is not surprising therefore that Jesus made use of this feast as an illustration of the Kingdom of heaven. What was surprising was the indifferent reception of those who were invited. The gospel narrative underlines that “the feast is ready” making it a clear incongruence to the unready hearts of the invited guests.

Same is true with our first reading (Judges 11:29-39), while Jephthah desired victory at the battlefield, he had nonetheless an unready heart to fulfill the vow he made to God upon his victory. I think, we all love heaven, we all love feasts. That’s why we can best relate with phrases like: masarap na buhay and biyaheng langit! And yet the demands of heaven make it difficult for us to commit ourselves to righteousness and fidelity to the Kingdom.

Certainly these eschatological themes of judgment and eternal banquet favor those whose hearts profess readiness to “taste and see the goodness of God.” Our saint for today (Bernard of Clairvaux), is an excellent example who even in his own youth exemplified his readiness to enjoy the wedding feast (gospel) as a living sacrifice (first reading); a testament thus of taking the proper garment for the heavenly feast (Fr. Antonio Gilberto S. Marqueses SVD Bible Diary 2015)

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Living by the word – Matthew 22:1-14

Christian Century,  Sept 25, 2002  by Gracia Grindal,  Martha Greene

Sunday, October 13 Matthew 22:1-14

Dress code

 IF YOU ARE EVER invited to a gala event where a constitutional monarch is present, you will be told to wear a dark suit or a formal dress. If you do not follow the dress code, you will be denied entry and sent back into the darkness from which you came. We’re talking formal wear here, not the kind of outrageous display of extreme couture exemplified by Jennifer Lopez at the Academy Awards. Formal and discreet–no pants suits for women, no leisure suits for men. Apparently the poor guy in the parable of the wedding banquet didn’t read the small print on his invitation. He is thrown into outer darkness where there will be gnashing of teeth because, as Jesus concludes, many are called but few are chosen. Jesus doesn’t give us a clue about why this happens. Didn’t the man wear the clothes he was given? Is he protesting the dress code? What is going on here?

As any mother knows, dressing another person can become a contest of wills. Scripture understands this–in fact, it is a profound theme of scripture from the beginning, when God dresses Adam and Eve in animal skins before they leave Eden, to the end, when we’re all going to be wearing white robes in the new Jerusalem. God provides these clothes freely to those who need them. Scripture gives us several glimpses of what these clothes will be like. American metaphysical poet Edward Taylor uses the images of Revelation 7 in his poem “Huswifery.”

Then cloath therewith mine Understanding, Will,

Affections, Judgment, Conscience, Memory;

My Words and Actions, that their shine may fill

My wayes with glory and thee glorify.

Then mine apparel shall display before yee

That I am Clothed in Holy robes for glory.

Given the pervasiveness of the theme of clothes in scripture, it is not surprising that it appears frequently in Christian song. There is, of course, the Negro spiritual “I Got a Robe” and Bianco da Siena’s “Come Down, O Love Divine,” set by Ralph Vaughan Williams. This 15th-century hymn uses clothing in another way: “Let holy charity / Mine outward vesture be, / And lowliness become mine inner clothing / True lowliness of heart, / Which takes the humbler part, / And o’er its own shortcoming weeps with loathing.” Bianco concludes, “No soul can guess his grace / Till it become the place / Wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.”

While we moderns might suggest that Bianco work on self-esteem issues, the images of an overcoat of charity and innerwear of lowliness of heart–the heart where the Holy Spirit also dwells–show how the will has to be changed thoroughly if we are to live in relationship with both neighbor and God. I’m struck by the wisdom of the image–the inner dress being fundamental, like the heart, while the outer clothing, charity, comes from a heart that knows it needs God in order to do anything good.

We are naked, both literally and metaphorically, before the living God. We need to be dressed, not with the sartorial choices of our own will, but with the grace of God. Scripture tells us that our own righteousness is as filthy rags, so we understand that only God has the appropriate wardrobe for us. Scripture tells us that the washing of the old garments comes from the blood of the Lamb. As Richard Crashaw, the great Baroque poet of England, wrote: “Th’ have left Thee naked, Lord, O that they had; / This garment too I would they had denied. / Thee with Thyself they have too richly dad, / Opening the purple wardrobe of Thy side. / O never could be found garments too good / For Thee to wear, but these, of Thine own blood.”

Christ’s nakedness on the cross is part of his humiliation, but as the source of all good he dresses himself with his purple (royal) blood and defeats the heinous purposes of his murderers. We shudder at the metaphysical conceit about the blood, but we understand the clothing image. Only Christ can dress us up in purples. Naked we came into the world, and naked we go out.

As Shakespeare’s King Lear raves on the heath, he begins to strip off his royal outerwear. “Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou ow’st the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume … Thou art the thing itself; unaccommodated man is no more, but such a poor, bare forked animal as thou art.” Lear strips all humanity naked with his words of terror and abandonment as he works to discover what it means to be a man, not a king.

In the hymn “The Farmer Takes a Sheaf of Grain,” contemporary Swedish hymn writer Ylva Eggehorn gets it right:

The farmer takes a sheaf of grain, his harvest, And lifts it up in

gratitude to God. So I will lift my daily work and troubles And leave them,

unadorned, before my God.

My faith bears nothing more, I bring no treasures And come without

adornment to your house. My life is naked longing, flesh and blood. So

dress me in your grace. You are my God. [c] Ylva Eggehorn, 1992.

Translation, Gracia Grindal, 1997.

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Speak up, God

IN THE FRONT LINE television documentary “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero,” an angry man who has lost many friends expresses rage toward God. “I don’t have problems with the Son,” he says, “but I have real problems with the Father.” This denouncement of the first person of the Trinity is evidence that there is still, as there was for the Israelites, an unbridgeable abyss between God and humanity. Even though God has revealed himself fully in Jesus Christ, there is the sense in which God remains hidden.

As I read the dialogue between Moses and Yahweh in the Hebrew scripture, I envy Moses’ intimacy with the Holy One. It is an intimacy that is rare for believers today. The scripture lesson is oddly woven; there are threads of intimacy and distance, threads of the overt freedom of God and the self-limitation of God. The intimacy lies in Yahweh’s longing to be with his people, so much so that Yahweh cohabitates with them in tents and speaks to Moses face to face, as a friend speaks to a friend. Yet Yahweh also places his hand over Moses’ face so that Moses cannot behold his face. And Yahweh extends favor to Moses even as he says, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious,” underscoring the freedom of God.

Moses’ third intercession occurs in the “post-calf” period, when he requests that Yahweh once again “go up,” or lead the Israelites out of the pit of idolatrous sin and dwell with them. Yahweh is reluctant to accompany Moses and the Israelites to the land flowing with milk and honey, but when Moses pleads with Yahweh to consider Israel as his people, Yahweh relents. So much for the immutability of God!

The fourth intercession is Moses’ daring, brash demand to see Yahweh’s glory. Moses knows that seeing the glory will be reassurance of Yahweh’s presence. “Show me a sign, a neon sign, anything,” a young woman said to God in a counseling session, when she wanted to know God’s will in an agonizing decision. We want unambiguous signs, but today’s theophanies are more subtle. And yet I wonder, what faith would there be in a world where the Creator intruded so powerfully that we would have no choice but to believe? What freedom would we have if we were coerced into faith?

Yahweh tells Moses that his face will remain forever hidden, for anyone who sees the face of Yahweh will not live. This statement is often cited as a universal description of the holy otherness and imperceptibility of God, but anyone familiar with other texts will hear the soft whisper of a reply, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8), or “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9). Our inability to see God or, even more, to know God is related to covenant infidelity and covenant betrayal. Yet we hope to live with a beatific vision of God and life even if we cannot see his blinding glory.

Walter Brueggemann suggests that the primary condition for reentering into relationship with God and experiencing his presence following covenant betrayal is the “stripping of ornaments.” We are blinded by “commodity fetishes” and by our assignment of status to ornaments and the material world. Religious vision is found in unfettered simplicity.

God tells Moses that he will be known through proclamation. “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you.” Knowledge of God is facilitated by hearing the word. Sight, it appears, does not tell us much about either divine or human behavior. When someone appears at my office door, I often learn more from the voice than the face, which is frequently a mask.

We cannot return to a pre-calf existence when the fullness of God could be seen more clearly. We are left instead with the task of knowing God through our obedience. Knowledge of God becomes a volitional matter.

“How shall we begin to know who You are if we do not begin ourselves to be something of what You are?” asks Thomas Merton. “We receive enlightenment only in proportion as we give ourselves more and more completely to God by humble submission and love. We do not first see, then act: we act, then see … And that is why the man who waits to see clearly, before he will believe, never starts on the journey.”

We all go through periods in life when, like the Israelites, we feel that the presence of God has been withdrawn. The structure of faith remains, but it feels like an uninhabited structure. When this happens we try to fill the void by buying things or browsing through travel magazines. The void reminds us that God is not at our beck and call and cannot be domesticated by our wishes or demands. When we are in a dilemma or a crisis, we will not always see what God is doing. But years later, we may come to understand the quiet and hidden things God has been doing in our lives.

Gracia Grindal is professor of rhetoric at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her latest book is A Revelry of Harvest: New and Selected Poems (Writers Showcase).

Martha Greene is pastor of Winnetka Presbyterian Church in Winnetka, Illinois.

COPYRIGHT 2002 The Christian Century Foundation

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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Parable of the Wedding Feast: “Why aren’t you dressed properly?” ancient kings sent out general banquet invitation first. Later they sent out specific invitations, giving the exact day and hour. “To say yes to a general invitation and no to a specific one was an insult.  It was like agreeing to meet someone for lunch next week but saying no to them when they call back to arrange the exact time and place.

The original guests in the parable are the Jews. The latter guests are the Gentiles. The Gentiles’ belated invitation, however, doesn’t exempt them from basic etiquette. To accept an invitation also means to agree to come properly dressed.

We have accepted the King’s invitation and must come to his feast dressed in garments of love and gratitude.

How loving and grateful are we?

“O Thou who has given us so much, mercifully grant us one thing more – a grateful heart,” George Herbert. (Mark Link SJ Illustrated Daily Homilies Weekdays p. 185)

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v. 2: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” Wedding feast is always a joyful event. It’s a gathering of love and friendship. God is inviting us to a festive meal with Him like being in a wedding banquet. Don’t miss it. Enlist for the feast 9Fr. Ching OP).

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There is one interesting detail in Jesus’ parable that took me a long time to figure out: why was the king so inconsiderate about the man who entered the wedding banquet without the proper wedding attire? If the people who filled up the banquet hall were not be the guests who were originally invite but the passersby  who were herded into the hall, would you expect passersby to be properly dressed for the formal occasion?

Here, though, is a cultural undertone. Palestinian weddings were prepared not only with lavish food and drinks, but the parties concerned with the wedding also took the pain of preparing the costumes that the guests would wear for the occasion. As guests arrived for the wedding, they were asked to don the costumes that were prepared by the hosts.

The man obviously skipped donning the costume given him! So, the narration goes, he had no answer for the king – no excuse, no alibi. Probably, he did not like the cut, the style the color of the costume. And this was an insult for the king who prepared the whole occasion.

God wants us not only to come and serve him. He wants us to come and serve him according to his way and will. This is what makes our service pleasing to Him – not that we do things according to our standards, but according to God’s standards (Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP New Every Morning New Everyday 2006:254)

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THURSDAY OF THE 20TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) – MATEO 22:1-14. Unsa man nga bisti ang atong isul-ob sa pagtambong sa kombira sa Dios? Ang Kristohanong kinabuhi gihulagway sa sambingay isip usa ka dakong kombira sa kasal. Ang Dios Amahan mao ang hari nga nagdapit og mga tawo nga motambong sa kasal sa Iyang Anak nga mao si Kristo. Ang atong pag-apil sa maong kombira ikalipay pag-ayo sa Hari; ang atong pagbalibad maghatag kaniya’g dakong kasubo. Kon kita moduyog sa kombira, gilaoman kita nga magsul-ob og saktong bisti. Ang bisti nga gipasabot dinhi dili materyal kondili espiritwal. Ang “bisti sa kasal” para kanato mao ang mga mithi sa ebanghelyo sama sa kaayo, kamaki-angayon, kamanggihatagon ug kamanggiloloy-on. Kon wala kita ning mga mithi, wala kitay luna sa kombira sa Dios ug dili nato masinati ang kalipay sa pagpakig-uban sa Kristohanong katilingban. Posted by Abet Uy

abetuy.blogspot.com/2014/08/thursday-of-20th-week-in-ordinary-time.html

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

THURSDAY OF THE 20TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) – MATEO 22:1-14. KINSA MAN ANG GUSTO SA DIOS NGA MAKAUBAN SA IYANG KALIPAY DIDTO SA LANGIT? Ang sambingay naghulagway sa langit isip usa ka kumbira sa kasal nga gipangandaman og maayo sa Hari. Adunay mga tawo nga gidapit ang Hari, apan sa dihang wala sila magpakitag interes sa pagtambong sa kumbira, gipadala sa Hari ang iyang mga sulugoon aron pagdapit sa tanang mga tawo nga ilang makit-an, maayo ug daotan. Kining maong sambingay magdasig sa tanan, ilabina sa mga tawo nga naghunahuna nga wala na silay paglaum sa kaluwasan tungod sa ilang pagkadaotan. Hinumduman nato ang panultihon: “Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.” Walay tawo nga walay daotang kagahapon. Apan wala usay tawo nga walay paglaum diha kang Kristo. Ang pultahan sa langit kanunayng abli alang sa tanan nga gustong magbag-o. Posted by Abet Uy

abetuy.blogspot.com/2015/08/thursday-of-20th-week-in-ordinary-time.html

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

THURSDAY OF THE 20TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) – MATEO 22:1-14. UNSA MAN NGA BISTI ANG ATONG ISUL-OB SA PAGTAMBONG SA KOMBIRA SA DIOS? Ang Kristohanong kinabuhi gihulagway sa sambingay isip usa ka dakong kombira sa kasal. Ang Dios Amahan mao ang hari nga nagdapit og mga tawo nga motambong sa kasal sa Iyang Anak nga mao si Kristo. Ang pag-apil sa maong kombira ikalipay pag-ayo sa Hari; ang pagbalibad maghatag kaniya’g dakong kasubo. Kon kita moduyog sa kombira, gilauman kita nga magsul-ob og saktong bisti. Ang bisti nga gipasabot dinhi dili materyal kondili espiritwal. Si San Pablo nagdasig: “Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…above all, love” (Col 3:12). Ang “bisti sa kasal” diay mao ang mga mithi sa ebanghelyo nga angay natong huptan aron masinati ang kalipay sa pagpakig-uban sa Dios ug sa Iyang katawhan. Posted by Abet Uy

abetuy.blogspot.com/2016/08/thursday-of-20th-week-in-ordinary-time.html

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Reflection for Thursday August 21, Saint Pius X, Pope; Matthew 22:1-14 – Reflection: Jesus compared The Kingdom of heaven to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. When it was the day of the wedding feast none of the invited guest arrived for they all had their preoccupations. How could they refuse the graciousness of the king?

The kingdom of heaven and the wedding feast that Jesus speaks about is within our midst which is the celebration of the Holy Mass.  And just like the king who invited guest, Jesus is inviting us also to be present at Holy Mass most especially during Sundays. But do we make time for Holy Mass to partake of the Body of Christ?

Like going to a wedding banquet where the invited guests prepare their most elegant clothes. Do we prepare ourselves before going to Holy Mass by having prior knowledge of the gospel and the other readings?

In our gospel, the expected guest refused the invitation of the king so the king was disheartened by their refusal. The king then instructed his servants to go out again and invite anyone (bad and good alike) they could find and many came to the wedding banquet and ate to their hearts content.

Perhaps, many of us do not also honor this invitation of Jesus to be present at Holy Mass. Why? Is it because we are also busy like the invited guest in the gospel? We are missing heaven on earth when we refuse to honor this invitation of Jesus for us to go to His wedding banquet which is none other than the celebration of Holy Mass.

Do we always listen to this invitation of Jesus? – Marino J. Dasmarinas

mjdasma.blogspot.com/2014/08/reflection-for-thursday-august-21-saint.html

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Reflection for August 20, Thursday Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church: Matthew 22:1-14

Reflection: Do you always find time for Holy Mass especially during Sunday? Every Holy Mass is an invitation for all of us to be present at the Lord’s banquet. To be present there will not cost us anything except a little of our time. In fact it’s us who will be greatly blessed by the Lord if we would make ourselves available for Holy Mass.

In the gospel Jesus tells us about a parable regarding a king who had invited guest to come to the wedding banquet of his son. But for the reason of their preoccupation nobody came to honor the king’s invitation. Thus, they missed the opportunity to break bread with the king, his son and other members of his family.

This is also what we miss when we fail to attend Holy Mass. We miss the opportunity to break bread with Jesus and partake of His Body and Blood and subsequently be strengthened by it.

Let us always find time to respond to Jesus’ invitation to be with Him at Holy Mass no matter how busy we are. Let us not miss the opportunity to be blessed by Him and to be up close and personal with our Lord and Master.

Do you always find time to be with Jesus at Holy Mass? – Marino J. Dasmarinas

mjdasma.blogspot.com/2015/08/reflection-for-august-20-thursday-saint.html

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Reflection for Thursday August 18, Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time; Matthew 22:1-14

Reflection: There was a man who died; a few moments after his death he saw two places one was with fire and with souls in terrible torment. The other one was a brightly lighted and heavenly place with joyous souls. An Angel asked him where would you chose to be? The man quickly replied: I chose the heavenly place with pearly gates.

When he was about to enter the pearly gates he was barred from going there. Then a loud voice boomed and told him: Why are you trying to desperately enter now? Do you remember when you were still alive? I invited you to church for countless times but you did not give any importance to my invitations. You gave more priority to your temporal earthly activities.

In our gospel Jesus gives a parable about a wedding feast, the king ordered the servants to invite the chosen guests. But they were all busy so they ignored the invitation they instead went to their usual daily tasks. One was busy with his farm, another with his business. And how about the others? They maltreated then killed the messengers of the king.

The king represents God and He perpetually invites us all to be present in the weeding banquet that is the celebration of the Holy Mass. We oftentimes hear people urging us to be present in the Holy Mass, to read the bible, to pray and be connected with God. They are the messengers or servants of God sent by Him for us to be closer to Him. For God desires our intimacy with Him this is the primary reason why He always invites us to His feast.

But what is our reaction to His perpetual invitations? We often times ignore it for the reason that we are so much busy with the things of this temporary world. We ignore it until we become aware of our own mortality so we are forced to know and discover God because we are already in dire need of Him.

Why wait for that time when we are already sick or near death?   Why not respond now to His invitation while we are still in the pink of health? – Marino J. Dasmarinas

mjdasma.blogspot.com/2016/08/reflection-for-thursday-august-18.html

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WHEN READY – “‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’… Many are invited, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 22:12, 14

“Here are the 21 new core members of our singles ministry!” I was caught off guard. They didn’t inform me! Surely someone with my talents, wisdom and experience in community would be part of this roster. But at number 18 and my name hadn’t been called yet, I said to myself, “Perhaps it’s a surprise?” Alas, 21 names were called and mine wasn’t on the list. I was devastated. I felt I was better than all of the others who made the cut. I felt I deserved it. I felt they had made the mistake of their lives by not giving me a leadership position.

By now, you’re probably thinking, “Man, this guy is so full of himself!” Well, you’re right. I was. (Past tense, I hope.) Until the day I finally wised up, humbled myself and said, “Lord, I give up. I don’t want any position anymore. I don’t need to be  in authority. I just want to serve You in any way You desire. Use me. I’m Your humble instrument.”

From that moment on, God began to use me in small ways. In silent support roles. Until eventually, He used me in ways I never imagined. Today, I’m doing more for God than I ever dreamed of.

I guess at the time I wanted the position so badly, my heart just wasn’t dressed for the occasion. I simply wasn’t ready— yet. George Tolentino Gabriel (george.svp@gmail.com)

Reflection: Are you ready for whatever God wants you to do?

Lord, humble me and use me in whatever way You desire.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-08-21

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1ST READING – God promises that His power and will are going to prevail in the end. This is good news for us as His will is perfect. What is unknown is how long it will be before His will prevails. That depends almost entirely on our response to His will as the more we fight it, the longer it will take to come to be. Conversely, the more we surrender to it, the quicker it will be realized. Ezekiel 36:23-28

GOSPEL – How often is this parable true for us? Maybe you think that it is very seldom true for you, but I want to suggest that every time we skip prayer in favor of another activity, we are being true to this parable. This parable is about making priorities for our lives and the first among them has to be our relationship with God, as without this our lives will be in chaos. Jesus wants disciples who will finish what they begin and, thus, can be counted upon to be true to their word. Are you one of this kind of people? Matthew 22:1-14

think:  Jesus wants disciples who will finish what they begin and, thus, can be counted upon to be true to their word.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-08-21

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AN INVITATION FROM THE KING OF KINGS – It is important to realize that a call from the Lord is an invitation from the King of Kings to come and follow Him. This is no ordinary  invitation — it comes from the Son of God and has as its culminating celebration the gift of salvation. If that is so, how come many are ready to ignore or even delay responding to the invitation now? It is important to put God’s call in our lives within the right context, or its significance will be easily lost in the midst of the busyness of the world.

The consequences described in the parable are extreme and I doubt whether they are meant to indicate any sort of punishment by the master giving out the invitation. However, they should serve as a warning to us of where our lives would lead if we exlude God from them. Isn’t it ironic that a large number of people, even perhaps the majority, do not want to consider the law of God when making decisions? It is as though He is irrelevant to their considerations or simply does not exist. Yet, at the first sign of adverse conditions or consequences of their actions, they blame God first. God seems to be the favorite “whipping boy” of many.

The challenge for us is to get our focus right by giving priority to God in our schedules, and the rest will slowly take care of itself. If the most important thing we do every day is pray, then why is it that it’s the first thing that gets junked when we are running short of time? What does this say about our commitment to a daily prayer time?

It is time to make a commitment to the things that really matter in our lives. The first of those is our relationship with God, which we can maintain through prayer. Let us never lose sight of this priority. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you have a daily prayer time?

Holy Spirit, help me to set aside time every day to spend with God in prayer. I want to give the best to the Lord and not just scraps of my life here and there.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-08-21

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 WITH POWER COMES ‘GRAPE’ RESPONSIBILITY – “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 22:14

Charles always believed that God had “chosen” him for ministry. “Is it in Africa?” he thought. But his young wife was sickly and didn’t have the health required for missionary travel. Charles knew that his calling was to be a husband first before a missionary. The welfare of his wife was the priority. Profoundly disappointed, he had to bid goodbye to his “African mission.”

God answered Charles’ desperate prayer. His circumstances never changed, but his heart did.

He had never thought of his business ability as something useful for God. He took over a fledgling business of producing grape juice for Christian churches for their Sunday services. He saw it as a ministry to churches. He employed many people who were praying for work. Along the way, Charles became the employees’ pastor, who not only served them with God’s Word but also literally with their “daily bread” for their families.

His real name: Charles Welch. You’ll see his Welch grape juice in your favorite grocery stalls.

Friend, God has chosen you for a unique service only you can fulfill. I pray you won’t miss it. Jon Escoto (faithatworkjon@gmail.com)

Reflection: Amidst the ministry opportunities closing doors on you, there are new ones opening. Can you see them?

Lord, I am Your servant. Thank You for choosing me. Let me know what You want me to do. I am listening.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2015-08-20

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CHRISTIANITY: A RELIGION OF JOY – There are good Catholics who are unhappy. They feel burdened by the commandments and are afraid that they might end up in hell. As a kid, I was often scared by the sermons of the priests. There were days when I ran to the confessional box twice a day because I was afraid of ending up in hell.

For a long time, the Church has stressed hell too much, forgetting to proclaim God’s love and mercy. In 1931, Christ intervened and revealed Himself to St. Faustina as “King of Mercy” and asked her to spread the message of God’s mercy throughout the world.

It is true: Jesus mentions eternal punishment in hell, but most of the time He compared the Kingdom of God to a wedding feast, which, in His time, was something very joyful. It lasted for one week with singing and dancing, flowing wine and food that was more than the guests could consume. Jesus did not see religion as a burden, a joy-killer or a cause of anxiety and pain.

Another point Jesus stresses: The joys of God’s Kingdom are not limited for a few selected people. Everybody is invited and welcome.

In today’s parable, Jesus tells us that all are invited, but not all respond because many have their priorities wrong. They prioritize money and livelihood, forgetting the great privilege to be invited by the King Himself.

Even we can fall into the temptation of not fully responding to God’s loving invitation. We are busy with many things — good things, no doubt. Working hard to support one’s family is good. In my case, preparing future priests in theological schools and in the seminary is surely very good. But being so busy with all this can lead us at times to neglect — as Luke puts it in one of his stories — sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him, and enjoying time with Him.

Yes, it can happen that we make mistakes in life and in our relationship with God, not because we sin, but because we fail to do what is most important. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD

REFLECTION QUESTION: Is your faith and religion a cause for anxiety or joy?

Lord, let me never focus on things that frighten me and make You a distant, angry God. Let me always find joy and enthusiasm in following You as Your disciple.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2015-08-20

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RELIGION: A JOY -KILLER? Many Christians regard their religion as a burden. They focus on the commandments and prohibitions, on the difficulties and obligations, on the threat of hell, and the sacrifices demanded.

Actually, they are not real Christians. Just look at how different is the image that Jesus presents! The Kingdom of God is like a wedding feast. And a wedding feast in His time was really something. It lasted for one week. There was singing and dancing, wine was flowing, and food was more than the guests could consume.

We realize that Jesus does not see religion as a burden, a joy-killer or a cause of sacrifice and pain. Rather, it is a great joy.

Pope Francis expressed this beautifully in his homily on May 10, 2013 when he said, “Sometimes these melancholic Christians’ faces have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life. If we keep this joy to ourselves, it will make us sick in the end, our hearts will grow old and wrinkled, and our faces will no longer transmit that great joy, only nostalgia and melancholy which is not healthy.”

The joys of the Kingdom of God are not for a few selected people, for a small group of elitists. No, God wants a full house. Everybody is invited and welcome. But unfortunately, not all who are invited respond because many people have wrong priorities. Some invited guests did not attend because they prioritized money and livelihood, forgetting the great privilege to be invited by the King Himself.

Even in our lives, we can be tempted not to fully respond and be attentive to the invitation. We are busy with many good things, no doubt. But being so busy can lead us at times to neglect — as Luke puts it in one of his stories — sitting at the feet of Jesus, not responding enough to the invitation to be with Him, listen to Him, and enjoy time with Him. And then religion becomes a burden and we miss the great joy Jesus wants us to be filled with. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD

REFLECTION QUESTION: Are you a joyful Christian who radiates joy?

Lord, overwhelmed by problems, I forget at times that I have more than enough reason to be filled with joy. Let me remember that there is no greater joy in this world than having You as my divine Brother. Amen.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2016-08-18

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August 20, 2015

Thursday of 20th Week in the Ordinary Time

Judges 11:29-39a, Mt 22:1-14

‘SOLA GRATIA’

One of the points of contention between the Catholics and Protestants was the argument on ‘sola gratia(grace alone). While the Protestants argued that the gift of grace alone is enough for salvation, the Catholics held the view that ‘in order to attain salvation we need to put human effort too even though the grace of God is primary.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus makes it clear that in order to enter the kingdom of God, there needs both the grace of God and human effort.

The invitation for the wedding feast had been extended to all in spite of the unworthiness of the people invited. On those days, as a practice, those who sit for the wedding feast had to wear the wedding robes that were kept just outside the wedding hall. The man without the wedding robe was unwilling even to take relatively that small effort to participate in the wedding. In fact Jesus speaks about the need of great effort to enter the kingdom of God (Mt 11:12).

The awareness that the Kingdom of God is a gift of grace from God makes us grateful towards God and helps us to live in gratitude for all that He has given to us. The thought that it needs human effort to attain the Kingdom makes us vigilant towards the needs of the other and grow in the brotherly/sisterly love. FR. JOHNSON BEZALEL CMI

navchetana.com/web/homilies.php?date=2015-08-20

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August 18, 2016

REFLECTION: Today’s first reading contains one of the most important texts of the Bible. But, in order to understand its importance, we have to remember two things.

First, let us recall that the first Covenant, that of Moses, was based on a law (the Ten Commandments) written by God on stone tablets (Ex 24:12). But the Israelites broke that Covenant repeatedly. So then, God promised to make a new Covenant, one which would overcome the exteriority of stone tablets outside the Israelites, and would be written inside them, on their hearts (Jer 31:33).

Second, keeping this background in mind, today’s excerpt from the prophet Ezekiel specifies further just what exactly will make the New Covenant so unique. In this excerpt God says: “I shall put my spirit within you and move you to follow my decrees and keep my laws.” So now we are told a tremendous secret: it is the Holy Spirit himself who will move our heart, the very love and strength of God!

Our whole lives should, second by second, be moved by the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit in the depths of our hearts. He is our Secret Lover, and he wants to bring us into God’s arms.

schoolofthewordonline.com/scriptural-library/daily-gospel/english/item/3619-august-18-2016

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Thursday of the 20th Week of the Year

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