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Theology for the common man

28 Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Today, Jesus compares the Kingdom to a king who sent his servants to call in everyone invited to attend a wedding feast. As it turned out, the guests did not want to attend. They did not listen to the servants’ pleas nor their explanations that a lot of effort went into preparing the feast. Some guests simply ignored the invitations, some insulted the servants, and some even killed the servants relaying the message. The king’s reaction was understandable: he sent his army to wipe out the murderers, and invited new guests in their place: people he found at the crossroads. Of course among them was a person who was not adequately dressed for the occasion. Caught by the king he not only had to leave the wedding, but also was treated like the previous guests: thrown out, where “there will be wailing and grinding of teeth”. Jesus tells this parable to the priests and elders responsible for the state of the religion of the chosen people. Additional context, from the first reading from the prophet Isaiah concerning a feast that the Heavenly Father has prepared in heaven “for all people”, shows that Jesus and His audience knew exactly who the parable concerned. The chosen people, favorited by God for so long, could no longer have the privilege of being close to God because of their lack of faith. The invitations – for ages sent by prophets – had not helped, nor had any reminders. They had always been met with excuses, and at times even ungratefulness, as many of these prophets had been put to death by the people. This was also to be the fate of Jesus, the Son of God, whose sacrifice brings new conditions of belonging to the chosen people: apparel worthy of the feast, i.e. the mercy of God, and with it – a heart sensitive to the call of God. This is the context for the words of caution spoken by Christ: “Many are invited, but few are chosen”. Many are invited, i.e. all are invited, according to the first reading: all nations. Yet the chosen ones, those with access to salvation, will be those who accept the invitation to the feast and heed the conditions of remaining at the feast, i.e. the appropriate apparel, or the mercy of God that grants constant access to God. We know that this is related to the state of sanctifying grace that grants our hearts unceasing predisposition to be in the presence of God. And, in this sense, we can call ourselves the chosen ones.