Such is the question, posed in this past Sunday’s Gospel according to Mathew (22: 1-14). Jesus, speaking to his disciples in a parable, tells of a king who invites guests to a wedding feast but, the guests refuse to come. He dispatches his servants out again with yet another invitation and this time, the servants were not only turned away but, some were even killed in the process! Next, the king tells them to head out onto the streets and invite anyone they find “the bad and the good alike” and, before too long the banquet hall is filled. There is one guest, however, who comes without his wedding garment, (an important piece of clothing in Biblical times) and is banished from the feast.
What was the message to Jesus’ disciples all those years ago? And, what is the message for us today? It’s easy! We’re all being invited to a feast, the greatest feast ever known, a feast where we are invited to “dine” with Jesus at the table of the Lord both at the Eucharistic table here on Earth during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and, in Heaven where we are told in the First Reading (Is 25: 6-10a) of a mountain upon which God will serve us the choicest foods and the best wines.”
How in the world did we get this invitation? What A-list did we have to be on? The answer is we neither had to do nor be anything to receive it! It is given to us continually and freely by a God who loves us infinitely! A God who loves us so much, He gives us the free will of the wedding guests—the free will to ultimately turn His invitation down or to even “kill the messenger” that brought it!
You see, as Christians we have a choice, a choice to love radically, a choice to be transformed! A choice to accept the invitation of Christ, who comes to us body and blood in the Eucharist, a concept so central to our Catholic Faith and yet, so mysterious and so often misunderstood—that Christ should come to us under the simplest of forms, forms that we understand, forms of bread and wine and, then literally be transformed during Mass to the actual flesh and blood of Christ! Whoa! That’s a lot to take in! And, if we really had the capacity to understand it and take it in fully, our Churches would be filled on Sunday and everyday! But in this world so full of quick fixes and instant gratifications, it becomes more and more difficult to even ponder fully this quiet yet radical beauty that occurs every day! And, what’s worse is we continually reject Christ’s invitation—reject it by sin, by the “veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations” as we hear in the First Reading (Is 25: 6-10a). We constantly turn down the opportunity to radically love Him, to be transformed by Him just as bread and wine are transformed!
So, what to do? How do we start to love radically, to be transformed? Well, we can start by accepting that invitation! Instead of rejecting it, perhaps we can reject some of “the world and all its charms.” Maybe, we can drop our defenses and heal a broken relationship, let go of a grudge with humility even though “the world” tells us “not to back down.” Maybe we can let go of some of our attachments that have such a strangle hold on our freedom that we couldn’t possibly accept an invitation to love fully. Maybe we can make sacrifice, little and big (as we get stronger), a part of who we are and, we learn to stave off that need to be gratified in an instant. Maybe, we could make the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) a regular part of a healthy spiritual diet so, when we come to the Lord’s table we come with our “wedding garment”, a clean soul. And, we remember that we can accept the invitation, literally, to dine at the Eucharistic table that is presented to us at every Mass! Not a symbolic gesture but, a real feast!
The choice to love radically isn’t always the easiest. St. Paul tells us and the Philippians in the second reading that though he has known humility and abundance, hunger and plenty, he can “do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:12-14, 19-20)
So can we! Call upon that strength often; be secure in it and fortified by it!
All we have to do is make the choice, accept the invitation! God is waiting for us and rejoicing at our coming!
There’s plenty of opportunity to love radically and be transformed here in Catholic Peekskill and, in all the tabernacles of the world!