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Many are called but few are chosen.” It is with those words that Jesus closes His teaching found in today’s Gospel from the Book of Matthew. It is in effect the closing of the Parable of the Wedding Feast. Jesus is trying to explain to us what the Kingdom of Heaven will be like. We could just as easily change the word “called” to “invited.” We may hear the call, but the challenge is responding to it.
It is no coincidence (it never is) that the First Reading from Isaiah also refers to a feast similar to the Wedding Feast in the Gospel. Isaiah opens with, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.” This is clearly a victory banquet, and whether we believe that it all begins with a banquet or not, the point is that Jesus speaks of this banquet and He is really looking forward to it. He said to His disciples at the Last Supper, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s Kingdom (Matthew 26:29). In this, Jesus spoke of His longing expectation for the day when He would take communion with His people at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Jesus is excited about this event; are we?
It is difficult to imagine that moment for us. We have waited for Jesus. He has saved us. God may sometimes seem distant to us, but the Lord’s ways are always best. Our salvation is from Christ, and so there is everything to be glad and rejoice in it! We can praise God for these blessings right now.
St. Paul reflects on the stewardship of the Philippians in the Second Reading. We need to understand that the Philippians, perhaps more so than any of the other communities Paul affected, were generous to him. Paul reminds the Philippians that his gratitude for their generosity and giving was not because he personally was needy. He was indeed in need, however. Paul points out that the real good was in giving. Paul writes, “Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress. My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” How often do we hear this in Holy Scripture? We are called to give and to trust in God. This generosity and this willingness to trust will be rewarded many times over. As Paul states, “My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with the riches in Christ Jesus.”
One of the most basic concepts related to how we give involves the word “sacrificial.” The Philippians were not wealthy benefactors and Paul understood that fully. It was their promise and their commitment that meant everything to him. That commitment meant something to the Philippians, to Paul, and certainly to the Lord.
The Gospel from Matthew is referenced in the opening of this reflection. It is what is called the Parable of the Wedding Feast. We might say that this has to do with judgment, the judgment we each will receive. There are two possible responses to God’s call to stewardship and discipleship. We can be indifferent toward it, a challenge for many, or we can oppose it, another common response. Jesus’ point is that it does not matter. Either response results in judgment by God.
Whether we choose to ignore God’s invitation, or whether we choose to completely reject it, the result is the same. All are invited to the Feast. It is God Who makes us fit, not us. Jesus may have been speaking directly to the sin-hardened hearts of the leaders, but He is also speaking to us. The choice is ours. We can follow Him or we can follow our perspective of what is real. He is the Way.
Filed Under: Homily Guides, Stewardship Reflections on Lectionary Readings by Catholic Stewardship Consultants, Inc.
UN FUERTE CONTRASTE
La parábola de hoy en el Evangelio es como una caricatura política o novela gráfica. Utiliza exageraciones y extraños giros de la historia para transmitir su mensaje. Hay una poca intensión de ser "realista". Jesús compara el rechazo hacia él por parte del sumo sacerdote y los ancianos a una escena imaginaria escandalosa. Para su audiencia, hubiera sido profundamente ofensivo que alguien asistiera a un banquete real y luego violentamente rechazara la invitación. Esto indicaría una rebelión total en contra del rey. La parábola fue una acusación contundente en contra de los líderes religiosos. En comparación, las personas encontradas en la calle que iban al banquete eran como aquellas que aceptaron a Jesús durante su ministerio. Ellos son las personas "sin importancia" que sorpresivamente son receptivas hacia él. Mateo marca un fuerte contraste para acusar a los sacerdotes y ancianos y elevar a las personas ordinarias que reconocen la presencia de Dios en Jesús.
RECIBIENDO LA ALEGRÍA DE DIOS
La escena final presenta al invitado que esta vestido de manera inapropiada para el banquete. Mateo está interesado en una lectura completa de aquellos que acepta la invitación de Dios. Un consentimiento superficial o participación no es suficiente. Dios quiere todo nuestro ser dedicado aquí. Los seguidores de Jesús deben preparase para el banquete, como sugiere una ocasión de boda. El significado de la boda no está claramente explicado. Ayuda a recordar que una boda, entonces y ahora, es un evento de profunda alegría. Estar vestidos apropiadamente significa estar listos para celebrar. Nuestros corazones deben estar listos para recibir la alegría de Dios. En efecto, puede ser difícil ser receptivo a la alegría cuando hemos sido lastimados en muchas maneras durante nuestra vida. Nuestro dolor puede causar que nos cerremos, que nos alejemos de otras personas y de Dios. Es de ayuda recordar que nuestro Dios abunda de alegría y está ansioso de compartir la plena alegría con nosotros. En nuestro tiempo de sufrimiento, Dios activamente nos invita a recibir esta alegría, y a cambio compartirla con los demás.
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Pope Francis constantly reminds us of the wideness of God's mercy and its unconditional character. God is always patiently loving his children and opening the doors to his heart. We must, however, freely choose to accept God's invitation and join in the feast of his love. We desire many things and we have restless hearts. We often attempt to quench our desire with things that are short-lived and shallow. All of us long to be satisfied and at peace. How do we announce to the world, in ways that are convincing and without judgment, that it is really God whom we seek?
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