Don’t Let God’s Invitation go into the Junk Mail Pile
When I was in second grade, on a winter’s day, Sister Charlene, our teacher, would at times take our class across the street into the church. She would talk about some of the things in the church itself; and as in second grade we celebrate our first reconciliation and then first communion in the spring, there was preparation for those milestones as well. I can look back now years later and remember a bit of a sense of awe and wonder as I looked at the stained glass windows, the altar, and the quiet beauty of our church. It’s something that has stayed with me throughout my life as I love spending time in churches in silent prayer. In fact, it was at the Saint Paul cathedral 20 years ago where I sat silently in front of the Sacred Heart statue and felt the peace and calm knowing that I was being called to enter the seminary.
When we go to Mass and when we pray, what we are doing is listening to God and making Him the true center of our lives. Mass is really for our benefit; it’s not as if God needs us to tell Him that we are thankful for Him to go on being God. Rather, if we love God, we hopefully want to have a true, meaningful relationship with Him so that we can grow in love ourselves. Knowing God means we know how to chose what is right and avoid what is wrong; it means we know how to treat others; and our faith can inform how we lead our lives.
The problem is it can be easy to become sidetracked. There is so much that competes for our attention. We get busy with work, school, sports and so many activities. And this mentality is passed on to kids too; the faith can sometimes be something for the holidays or that we think about every so often, and so kids can not learn the faith. The reality though is try as we might to escape death, it comes for us all. And hopefully we prepare for that not with fear or ignoring it, but by remembering what awaits us is truly what eye has not seen and ear has not heard. God’s love, however, requires a response. So what kind of response are we giving?
In the Gospel from this week, a king is giving a banquet for his son. He sends out his servants to invite people. Some ignore the invitation; others go so far as to mistreat and kill the servants. At the end of the Gospel we are told servants go and bring in whomever they find; one man who isn’t properly dressed though is thrown out.
In the world, there are many who are apathetic about the faith. They’ve been invited, but don’t bother to do much to respond to come to know God. There are others who are openly hostile toward it. This isn’t really a wedding feast, but more a description of salvation history. It’s the messianic banquet. And as for the man who isn’t properly dressed, he represents the reality that all of us, like him, will be judged one day by God. The wedding garment is a life of good deeds and growing in a relationship with God.
This week’s Gospel gives us a chance to look at our lives and ask some questions about our faith journey.
For one, remember that God loves you. The poor are brought into the wedding, and like them, we should accept our poverty too. We need the healing and sanctifying gifts of God’s grace and mercy. We turn our sins and struggles over to God, knowing that His love is always there, from giving us comfort in troubling times to the comfort that knows even when we fall, His love is there to help us but back on the wedding garment of His love that we sometimes lose through our bad decisions.
We then look at how we respond to it; namely through prayer and a way of life.
With prayer, use what works for you. Mass is not obligatory currently in our archdiocese due to the Covid pandemic, but it’s been encouraging to see people gradually return to Mass anyway, because it is at Mass where we receive Jesus in a special way through the Eucharist. You might consider returning if you’ve been away, or if you aren’t comfortable yet, watching Mass online or on TV. Find prayer that works for you, be it silent meditation or the rosary or other types of prayer. Or maybe start reading through the Bible, finding a good Catholic Study Bible with footnotes and commentaries. Prayer brings us closer to God.
Also, do a good examination of conscience. How are you leading your life? What are the areas of sin you’re trying to overcome? How are you doing with respect to your vocation? How are you treating your family? When we know God more deeply we can make better decisions.
Lastly, remember all of us are evangelists. For parents, try to pray nightly with your kids as a family. Talk to them about the faith. Help them to understand that God loves them so much, and to come to know Him. And for all of us, we can’t be afraid to talk about what we believe and why with others and to be fishers of men, bringing people into the banquet God has prepared for them.
In life, it’s so easy to get sidetracked. And it’s not to say our hobbies, interests, and careers don’t matter. But at the end of the day, how God and others remember us isn’t so much for our job or bank account, but rather about how we reflected God’s love in the world. God’s love and grace give us the ability to create a wonderful wedding garment for the banquet that awaits us – so let’s be prepared for that day by responding to the great invitation we’ve been given.
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