October 9, 2011Readings For The Twenty-Eighth Sundayin Ordinary Time: Is 25:6-10a;Phil 4:12-14, 19-20; Mt 22:1-14
Francois-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire once wrote,Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien. The better is the enemy of the good. The invited guests in today's parable were living the good life. They were about their lives, pleased with their farms and business and they had no time for the king, his son or their feast. We should be able to relate to them because we all can become so busy in our lives that we reject many of the invitations we receive. Especially here in San Pedro, it seems like there is an endless invitation to another party.
God, however, has something much better for us. Some of the invited guests in today's parable simply turn away from the invitation, just as we often find other things to do than to respond to God's invitation to share in His banquet. As the pastor of Mary Star of the Sea, I am often sadden through the realization of how many of our people who have been invited through the Sacrament of Baptism seldom come to share in the banquet of the Eucharist. They are busy with life and have no time to spend at the banquet of the King. Many show up for Christmas, Easter, funerals or weddings and other special occasions, but beyond these dates they have no time for God. The common saying is, "I am a good person and I worship God in my own way, I do not need to come to Church."
Today's parable reminds us, however, that we are invited to something better. The invitation to the wedding feast is not something that can wait for tomorrow. We are not to go about our ordinary lives hoping to someday share in the feast in Heaven. The banquet has already been prepared for us, the fatten cattle have been killed, everything is ready for us now. If we reject the invitation that has been given to us there may not be a feast waiting for us at a later date.
Thomas S. Kepler, a convert to Catholicism from the Presbyterian Church wrote in his book, A Journey with the Saints, "The secret of the revolution in the lives of the saints lies in the fact that their lives are centered in God. They never seem hurried, they have a large leisure, they trouble little about their influence; they refer the smallest things to God. They live in God." The saints are those who realize that all of those other things in life are not as important as spending time at the feast. Kepler say's "That is the great secret to successful living: the realization that when one reserves time to come to God's banquet, all of the rest of life will fall in place."
Another part of this parable often troubles me. I know that as a priest and pastor of Mary Star I am one of those who have been sent out to give the invitation to the banquet. If people are not showing up, is it my fault? Am I not inviting enough? When people show up at the banquet am I not celebrating the Mass with enough joy in order to keep them there? I also personally need to question, am I doing enough to go into the main roads to invite others to the banquet, "bad and good alike"? As the one responsible for the pastoral life of this parish I know that this is part of my responsibility and someday I will need to stand in front of the King and have to answer for my role as a messenger, just as each one of us will be accountable for how well we did inviting others to share in the banquet of the Lord.
The parable has the King arrive at the wedding banquet only to find one of the guests who had arrived at the feast from the streets not dressed in proper attire. I know many would like to use this passage to refer to those who do not come properly dressed for Sunday Mass. Even though it is always nice to see people dress their best for the banquet of the Lord every Sunday, Jesus is not talking about our external attire. We are all invited to come to the banquet, but the proper attire is to come with sincere hearts. We can come every day to Mass, spend hours in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel without hearts open to share in the joy of the banquet. Our Lord desires that we are more than physically present at the banquet, he wants our hearts and souls present also so we can share in the fullness of his joy.
The banquet has been prepared, the guests are assembled, the music is playing, the groom has arrived; are we ready to take our place at the table of the Lord?
Father John Provenza