Gospel - August 21, 2014

Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope
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 compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.

“Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them.

“The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’

“Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless.

“Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Reflection - August 21, 2014

This parable can be hard to hear—there are a number of missed opportunities for reconciliation. Yet Jesus offers this parable as an image of the kingdom of heaven—why?

The parable suggests that the kingdom of heaven is an invitation to be in relationship with God. However, it also suggests that this invitation is something that we, in our freedom, often reject in our daily lives.

One kind of rejection is the seen through the first group of invited guests. Jesus tells us that these men and women "make light of" the king's invitation. This seems a bit extraordinary—who says no to a royal wedding? Yet how often do we reject God's invitation in our daily lives by making light of it? Don't we often think of it as something that we can "postpone" until tomorrow, until Sunday, or until we are older? When invited to the feast, how often do we decide instead, just as these guests, to return “home” to what is comfortable, or to “work” that keeps us occupied and distracted?

And what of the final scene? What of this last enigmatic man who cuts such a lonely figure and invites our sympathy? What does he teach us about accepting God's invitation? If the first guests teach us that freedom means it is possible to say no to God's love, this man teaches us that we must actively say yes to that love.

When asked why he does not have a wedding robe he is "speechless,” despite being addressed as "friend" by the king. Perhaps we find it hard to believe that, having been invited unexpectedly to the feast, he would not also simply acknowledge his poverty and ask the king for a robe. And yet how often do we fail to honestly admit our needs before God? Our culture rewards us for our independence, our personal strengths, and our professional success—it is hard for us to admit that we need a savior.

Vulnerability before God is the key to accepting his invitation. This parable suggests that to accept God's invitation I need to speak: to admit my needs and invite God to meet them. Ultimately, it is not the king's servants that bind the man, but his own fear and silence.

The kingdom of God is an invitation to a relationship with God, a feast whose fare is healing and freedom.

Gregory Floyd ‘07

Prayer - August 21, 2014

The Church in Iraq has faced the destruction, burning, and looting of churches, homes, and businesses. Under threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) to join their extremist brand of Islam, many have fled for their lives. We join our prayer with persecuted Christians suffering in Iraq. The text of this prayer was written by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako:

Lord, the plight of our country is deep and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening. Therefore, we ask you Lord to spare our lives, and to grant us patience, and courage to continue our witness of Christian values with trust and hope.

Lord, peace is the foundation of life. Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us to live with each other without fear and anxiety, and with dignity and joy.

Glory be to you forever. Amen.

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