20th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Ezk 36:23-28
Thus says the LORD: I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations, in whose midst you have profaned it. Thus, the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when in their sight I prove my holiness through you. For I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Gospel: Mt 22:1-14
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying, “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
MANY ARE INVITED, BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN: The Kingdom of God is Compared to a banquet or a marriage feast to demonstrate the nature of its life. The king and his son clearly represent God the Father and Jesus respectively. The first group of servants sent were the prophets. The invited guests refuse to listen to them. The second group of servants, perhaps John the Baptist encountered hostility and killed. The king sending the troops and destroying the murderers and their city might be an indication of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 by the Romans. Then a general invitation is given to all kinds of people and the hall is filled. Guests at a wedding feast are expected to participate with proper clothing. There are entrance requirements to enter into the kingdom. The kingdom of God has been offered to all kinds of people, but only a few of them act upon the offer of the banquet of the kingdom. Many are invited, but few are chosen.
Prayer: Lord, help me to honour your prophets and servants.
LOVE UNTIL IT PAINS: We are a gift from God in all we are and have. The invitation to the Kingdom demands a total surrender and faithfulness in response. That which is given in response should be in total. As such, the response which is love, demands sacrifice. Only those who are willing to totally surrender things that are dear to them can have a place in the Kingdom of God. The invitation has been made to Israel, the people of God but when they rejected and crucified Jesus, we found an opportunity. We need to leave all and choose Jesus who has given all for us. Those who withhold something and entertain themselves with the pleasures of the world loose the chance for eternal joy. What we choose selfishly for ourselves has only momentary pleasure.
PARABLE WITH A POINT: The Jews of Jesus’ time thought that they were in the right track of following the Lord. But in fact, they were not. Jesus points out that they are like the people who refused the invitation for the feast. They have been waiting all through to see the realization of the messianic times. But when the Son of God came to them, they failed to accept him. Some of them named drunkard, glutton and friend of sinners and tax collectors. He was also accused of breaking rules of the religion. They failed to recognize in Jesus the Son of God who came to save the humanity. Jesus’ parable reveals the willful neglect of the salvation given to the Jews and therefore the grace is channeled to others to become part of the kingdom of God.