INVITED TO DANCE WITH GOD – 15 October 2017 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Is 25:6-10A; Phil 4:12-14, 19-20; Mt 22:1-14
Fr Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications

The wedding feast is the biblical image of the encounter of love between the Lord and Israel. In the parable, the bridegroom is Jesus, he is the son, and the bride is the whole of humanity.

The banquet is the happiness of the Messianic era. Whoever accepts the proposal of the Gospel and enters into the kingdom of God experiences the most authentic and deep joy.

The servants are sent to invite the guests. The first invitees did not come to the party; they didn’t have the heart to abandon their interests, the field, and business. They did not need a banquet; they felt satiated, believed that they already have what is needed for a life without problems.

The guests gathered along the streets and squares are people of the whole world, the bad and the good, without distinction. In fact, it gives priority to those who do not have merits. It’s a subtle way of alluding to the complete gratuitousness of God’s love and the fact that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6).

This reminds us that the people of God is made up of people who are bad and good. It is an invitation to cultivate an understanding of human weakness and to keep the doors open to all of our communities. The poor, the marginalized, those who feel rejected in the church must find a place where they feel accepted, understood and valued.

The curtain could fall on this sweet and charming scene of everyone being part of the banquet. Instead, here, the parable continues with an episode that seems to ruin everything. The king enters the room, browses at the guests and gets angry with a victim who did not wear the proper attire. He treats him with unprecedented harshness, even unjustified, considering the venial sin. Those who joined the joyful feast cannot but be stunned. How do you explain that?

This, second part of the parable is not the continuation of the first. It is a new parable that is isolated and interpreted without reference to the previous one. The theme that the evangelist wants to focus on in this second part is the possibility, even for those who have accepted the invitation to enter into the kingdom of God, to turn away from the logic of the Gospel. They risk failure as those who declined the invitation.

The new life of the Christian is often compared in the New Testament to a new dress, worn on the day of baptism. It is not enough to have received the sacrament; one needs to assume the appropriate behavior. One cannot present oneself with the rags of old life: adultery, dishonesty, disloyalty and moral debauchery.

The purpose of the evangelist is to remind Christians—of his and our communities—of the seriousness of which they assume and carry out their baptismal commitments.

Spread the Gospel… build the vision!

Fr Manuel MCCJ

“If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!”(1Cor 9:16)

This phrase from St Paul keeps on coming to my mind, especially in this month of October, when there’s a clear call to rekindle the missionary spirit within each Christian community and in each disciple of Jesus.

Time and again, the messages for Mission Sunday call each believer to take seriously the task of sharing his or her faith because of the “obligation” that comes from Baptism. And let us not forget that the missionary spirit “is not only about geographical territories, but about peoples, cultures and individuals, because the ‘boundaries’ of faith do not only cross places and human traditions, but the heart of each man and each woman”.

The Second Vatican Council emphasized in a special way “how the missionary task, that of broadening the boundaries of faith, belongs to every baptized person and all Christian communities”… Thus, each Christian community is challenged and invited to make its own the mandate entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles, to be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Often times some might think that “these things of preaching the Gospel” it’s only for those we call “missionaries” or those with particular services in the Church. However, the missionary dimension of our faith is not a secondary aspect of Christian life, but its essential aspect: “we are all invited to walk the streets of the world with our brothers and sisters, proclaiming and witnessing to our faith in Christ and making ourselves heralds of his Gospel.”

We know that in some places it is not allowed to express one’s faith, much less proclaim it openly! And this is an obstacle that comes from the outside… But – as Pope Francis already mentioned – the work of evangelization “often finds obstacles, not only externally, but also from within the ecclesial community. Sometimes there is lack of fervor, joy, courage and hope in proclaiming the Message of Christ to all and in helping the people of our time to an encounter with him.” (Pope Francis on his first Message for World Mission Sunday in 2013)

To encourage our Diocesan Catholic community to renew its missionary zeal and rekindle the fire for evangelization, next Saturday (October 21, 2017), at St. Joseph Seminary (at 7:30 p.m.) we’ll gather to celebrate, to pray, to encourage each other and to learn from history the missionary spirit that animated our Church and can animate us today… because that’s the power of the Spirit!

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