October 17, 2017 v4 p46
There are some times when the weekly readings at Mass don’t have as big of an impact on me as others. The readings from this past Sunday was not one of those times.
When Jesus was with us on earth he did a lot of teaching. He taught his disciples. He taught the poor. He taught the sick. He taught the sinners. He didn’t pick and choose who he taught, because He loves everyone equally. What He did do was teach everyone in different ways. When the disciples were taught it was in a straight forward manner. This was because they believed. This was because they followed. They did this without question. When He did most of his teaching it was through parables. In Matthew 13:13 Jesus explains using parables because, “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” This week’s Gospel reading discusses the parable of the wedding banquet.
For those of you who may not be familiar with this parable here’s a quick recap. The King had prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He invited many guests and they didn’t arrive. After a second invitation and refusal the King had them killed. He then sent His servants out to invite all that they encountered. Many attended but when the King came to one attendee who was not dressed in his wedding attire, he had him bound and expelled into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. There are more details in the story, but for sake of drawing this post out too long, there is the “Cliff’s Notes” version. I’ve heard this parable taught a few times before, but it wasn’t until this past week that it showed itself in a different context to me.
There is a lot of tension in our country as of late. It’s causing a lot of violence and hate towards each other. People who were once good friends are finding that they can no long put aside their differences. Family members are alienating themselves from each other and tearing each other down and apart. If I were to look at the United States from the outside I would almost think that we were in a civil war, it has escalated to that point. It really pains me to see the way some people treat each other. It really pains me to see how people are so centered on themselves and what they want. It is difficult for me to understand how a person could be like that. I really can’t fathom it.
What I really have the hardest time dealing with is how everyone seems to think that their way is the right way. That belief is usually followed by the thought that if your opinion is different than theirs then you must be the enemy and they must hate you. Both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of this. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you sit on, I’ve seen both do it. I don’t claim to be innocent of this myself. There were times, as recently as three years ago, where I wasn’t always able to see things from a different perspective than my own. The more time I’ve spent in prayer and studying my faith, the clearer it has become to me how much of a sinner I was and still am. What I have done is made a conscious effort to change. I still catch myself trending towards that type of behavior, but I can now recognize it better and stop myself.
So how does that parable tie into all of this? The king in the story is God. He invites all of us to feast at the wedding banquet of his son Jesus. This is an invitation to enter His kingdom, Heaven. If we don’t except that invitation, well, you read my synopsis. But what about those of us who decide to attend the banquet? Should we just show up however we would like? When you are invited to a wedding do you just show up? No, you dress appropriately for the occasion. So if we “just show up” to the Father’s banquet for his Son, are we really giving our best? There needs to be more.
If you go to church on Sunday but don’t live the life you are called to live the other six days of the week then you are one of those who “just show up.” I’m thankful that when God sent his only son, Jesus didn’t “just show up.” He showed us how to better love Him, and how to love one another. So many times we forget that in order to live to what the fullest of what He wants we need to remember how we were taught. In Matthew 22:37-39 we are taught “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ So many do the opposite, they love themselves before God and they don’t even think to love one another. It’s leading our country and the human race down a very steep, and slippery slope.
We are all invited to this great banquet. It’s up to you decide which role in this parable you’re going to play. Are you going to be someone who ignores the invitation no matter how many times is comes, someone who “just shows up” or one of the guests who enjoys the great offerings at the banquet? One of the greatest things God has done for us was to give us free will. You are free to choose which of those roles you wish to play. Because of that freedom though, you must also be willing to accept the consequences that come with the role you choose to play. I know which role I’m going to choose to play.
I don’t claim to be without flaws, but I’m working on correcting them and trying to better show love to God and others. I’m doing my best not to lose my invitation, and I hope more people join me at this banquet.