Sunday, October 12, 2014

God Provides & People Decline -28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today's readings tell us two things: 1) God provides for us 2) We are ungrateful and ignore God.

In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we read how God prepares a feast for all peoples.  This feast is described in detail as having rich food and choice wines.  It even repeats the phrase again just in case the reader missed how great this feast will be.

The reading continues saying that God will destroy the veil that is over the nations.  This is the veil that keeps us from truly seeing God.  Atheists are especially ones who have trouble with this veil and do not see God as a person of faith does. It takes one a lot of time to grow spiritually, think outside the box and sense God through this veil that covers all nations. This veil will be removed and we shall see God as He is.  St. Paul reminds us of this in 1 Corinthians 13:12.  This feast is significant in Catholicism.  It is the Mass that is being referred to here. The Mass that we celebrate on Earth is a taste of the Lamb's Supper after the judge comes and separates the good from the bad (Revelation 19:6-9).

The Responsorial Psalm reminds us that God is our shepherd.  He is the one who guides us, feeds us, gives us water to drink.  Even when we are in dark moments in life, God is there guiding us. When we trust God truly, we fear nothing. There is nothing this world can do to us that will strike fear because we know that God is with us and will stand by us. This is why many martyrs took their martyrdom without fear. Some even joked as they were being killed as in the case with St. Lawrence. If God's with us, who in the universe can defeat us or destroy us (Romans 8:31)?

In the second reading St Paul reminds us again that God is the one who provides for us. It is the grace of God that even allows us to handle any humbling situations in life that may cause despair in those of no faith.  We live in abundance in every circumstance, as he describes.  St. Paul tells us something that is truly powerful.  He says that in God we can do anything because God is our strength.  This verse is very powerful and is one that former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera had woven into his glove. He believed that it was God who allowed him to reach the greatness in baseball that he reached.  The same phrase applies to us of faith. God is our strength (Psalm 28:7).  There is nothing we cannot do if we are with God and trust in His Divine Providence. God will fully supply whatever we need, as St. Paul tells us.  He will not give us anything that we cannot handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Finally in the Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the king whose son is getting marriage and he invites guests.  The guests refuse to attend this wedding.  He invited them again by adding more details of the feast to perhaps entice them. However, some ignored them and instead went to take care of their businesses and farms.  The rest of them went to the king's servants and harassed and killed them.  Upon notice of this, the king sends his troops to kill off these wayward people who killed his servants.  The feast goes on as planned but those who were originally invited were unworthy.  Instead, the king orders that those found on main roads both good and bad are invited to come.  They came to the feast and one comes improperly dressed. The king becomes upset and casts him out into the darkness.  Jesus ends with the story, "Many are invited, but few are chosen."  

This parable is describing how God invited His distinguish guests and they refused to attend the wedding.  These are the people of the Old Covenant who heard God's word and harden their hearts (Psalm 95:8). Many today are even atheists and do not believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So God sent His invitation with a little more detail to see if the invited would come.  Instead some ignored and went about their business, the others killed the servants of God. Then God invited everyone else he could find, the good and bad.  However, those who were not properly dressed, we kicked out into the darkness.  Here we can see this as Jesus calling the Pharisees and other Jewish cults of the time to the new Covenant and they rejected Him. They instead went after Him and called for His crucifixion. So God then called everyone else.  This is where the Catholic Church comes in. The Church is "Catholic" which means universal. She has members of every race, culture.  It is the only religion that has gone literally around the world. The Church is composed of all peoples, good and bad.

However, those from the Church who come to the wedding and are not properly dressed will be kicked out into the darkness.  What dress is Jesus talking about?  A tuxedo? A suit and tie?  Not at all.  The dress here is the life of grace and virtue. Those who mastered the virtues of faith, hope and love are properly dressed in these and can come to the wedding. Those who come before God and do not have these virtues mastered will be cast away or will be without the presence of God, or in hell. This is why it is important for us to make use of the Sacraments so that we can be well prepared with the wedding attired God asks of us so that we can have a great time at the wedding of the Lamb. We should not be like those guest who were invited and did not want to come.  These are those who are invited to become part of the Catholic Church and reject.

We also should not become like those who are invited and instead go on to work on our farms or businesses.  These are Catholics who do not go to Mass and instead do other things.  They may even go to Mass and leave quickly without staying through all of it.  Remember, Judas left the Last Supper early and look what happened to him.

We must not be like Judas who was ungrateful and interested in his own affairs. If we are invited to the feast, we must go, participate and not leave early. Those of us who can receive Holy Communion must be in the state of grace and not receive the Lord while in mortal sin. This would be like attending the wedding without proper attire.

Lastly, notice how Jesus says in the parable that the king sends his servants to gather people around on the main roads, both good and bad.  This shows that God is welcoming to all.  He is not the "God of the Jews" or the "God of Christians." He is the God of all.  This is why Pope Francis has been stressing the welcoming aspect of the Church.  The Catholic Church is not an exclusive club for some members.  She must be open to all, good and bad.  We must not judge people who come to Church, even if they are living in a state of sin. The most important thing is that they are there. God will guide them through the dark valley as the Responsorial Psalm tells us.  All peoples on the "road," both good and bad are welcomed to come to the Catholic Church.


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