Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gospel Reflection

August 23, 2012
St. Rose of Lima (Optional Memorial)
by Rev. Fr. Agapito "Aga" Tarog (Immaculate Conception Parish, Las Pinas)

First Reading:               Ezekiel 36:23-28
Psalm:                         Psalm 51:12-15, 18-19
Gospel:                        Matthew 22:1-14           

1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, `Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.' 5 But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, `The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.' 10 And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; 12 and he said to him, `Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, `Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' 14 For many are called, but few are chosen."

The parable of Jesus today is based on a normal Jewish custom. During the time of Jesus, when one invites a guest to a feast or a party, there are 2 announcements. One is the preliminary notice which is made in advance, and is without a date yet. The preliminary notice serves to alert the guests that there will be an upcoming feast or party. Second would be the final announcement or final summons. During the final announcement, the invitees are expected to prepare and be ready to attend on the day of the celebration.

Regrettably, in the parable, people were busy or chose to ignore the wedding feast. And the wedding feast being referred to in the parable is God's Kingdom. What then does the parable wish to convey?

First, the parable says that God is preparing a feast for all of us. The feast is a celebration of our reunification with God our Father in His Kingdom, and a gathering of all the scattered children of God in His household, His eternal dwelling place.

We all know that the invitation was extended to the Jews, as the chosen people of God. However, "many of them did not come", as they failed to recognize God in the person of Jesus who walked amongst them. But the feast is ready, and the King now extends his invitation to others, which in this case, are those who are not the chosen people - the sinners, the Gentiles, the rest of us. Tayo 'yon. We were not entitled, yet we have been given the privilege to join in the banquet of God. This is called God's grace, which was given to us through His providence and goodness. We should be thankful and appreciative of this grace. 

Second, the parable speaks of the 'wedding garment" to be worn at the feast. Father said that we have been invited to the feast when we were baptized. And during our baptism, we were given the (spiritual) "garment" to wear in preparation for God's party. But of course, along the way, our garments get dirty, through sin, thus we ought to make it clean in preparation for the feast. And every day, God gives us the chance to prepare for the feast - when we celebrate the mass, and through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession). Are we careful enough to keep our garments ready - in all its purity and cleanliness - when we are already called by God to His feast? Or are our garments dirty? Do we take effort to make our garments clean through the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

God has already provided everything we need for us to be ready for His feast. Let us pray for the grace that we may prepare ourselves, so that we may not be caught flat-footed when God already calls us to the ultimate entry into His celebration in heaven.  

St. Rose of Lima - Pray for us