A Cycle -28th Sunday in Ordinary Time 20
Mt. 22L 1-14
Who would refuse to attend the wedding feast of a prince? Even if you did not know him personally you would know the wedding and the celebration that followed would be a lavish affair. Guest would be happy, food and drinks more than enough to satisfy any desire. You certainly would be entertained, and you would leave the event with your senses satisfied. After all we all desire to have a fun filled evening occasionally don’t, we? So why would Jesus have people refuse the invitation of the King as he once again speaks to the chief priests and leaders of the people.
Perhaps we must enlarge our vision and not be so fixated on the wedding feast but focus on God’s desire for us to enjoy the fruit of an abundant life with Jesus as Lord. After all that is the desire of God when he created us in his image, and it remains God’s desire for us today. Why we refuse what God offers us is simply because we have a mind set that has been sown by someone who wants us to believe that anything involving religion is boring. If you think that is not true, then take the time to read the data from the Siena Institute and published in the book “Intentional Discipleship.” Church attendance among all age groups is declining and we have no clear indication that what we are doing is enough to bring them back. Have we failed to help people discover what God is offering us when he says come follow me?
I can only look back on my own life and can with certainty tell you that in my younger days I never failed to miss mass. That was not because I was so enthralled with a pre-Vatican II mass. It was because I feared hell and the though of an eternity in hell was enough to at a minimum bring me to church. The scriptures speak of a battle between powers and principalities, good and evil. Jesus speaks of the devil as a liar, one who sets out to deceive us and in doing so keeps us from experiencing the fullness of life offered to us by Jesus. If you read the statistics 65% of people believe there is an evil force called the devil and yet that is not enough to have them accept the invitation.
Yet, when I see the data from the Siena Institute on why people leave the church I find their reasons for not showing up have more to do with the fact they are not experiencing anything powerful enough to draw them to want more. Perhaps the answer to having more people accept an invitation is the fault of the messengers. Not just us in the clergy but all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord. Are we excited enough about promise of God to offer us forgiveness, unconditional love, peace, joy, mercy, and a new life to cause others to want what we have experienced? More to the point, have we experienced the arms of a loving God enfolding us and pouring his love into our hearts.
Why have we failed to show the joy, the peace, the knowing we are loved by God to those who believe there is nothing to gain by accepting the invitation to become a disciple and believer of Jesus Christ. It is not the invitation people are refusing; it is not desiring to be in the company of people whose demeanor says they are present but not engaged in the festivities of the banquet. This is the result of years of being bombarded with a lie that is telling us Christianity deprives you of all that is enjoyable in life.
We need to combat that lie and that can only be achieved if we not only accept the invitation to become disciples, but we must put on the wedding garment. This wedding garment has been offered to us by a God who loves us and like all wedding garments it is not just the suit or the dress we need to put on but it is incomplete without all the accessories. Paul invites us to “put on Christ” a willful deliberate action of inviting Jesus to be Lord of our lives. Yes, it is, in the words of our protestant brothers and sisters in Christ tell us – we must accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We must acknowledge him before others and seek ways to become disciples. Then we accessorize by inviting the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts.
Invite the Spirit to guide us to a deeper knowledge of Jesus Christ, to teach us about sin and forgiveness and to open our eyes and minds of understand how to apply the scriptures to our walk into the Kingdom of God. We must be honest about what we are seeking when we begin our spiritual journey. Are we seeking the Kingdom of God or are we seeking a life insurance policy keeping us from hell? Do we feel joyful as we leave church each week? Do we seek opportunities to learn how to deepen our relationship with Jesus or are we seeking something else? The opposite is to be like those invited and make excuses why we cannot be in the presence of the King and his Son.
Are we eager to grow in spiritual gifts or are we lazy and do the minimum to be in the presence of God? If we show up and do the minimum, we are not any better off than those who refused the invitation. If you missed the point of today’s gospel, know this, you have been given and invitation to experience more than you can ever attain by not accepting.