Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Mt.22:14)
The parable of the wedding feast is about our response to God’s call. It cautions us first of the dangers of indifference.
We can put ourselves into this parable because God invites us to the same wedding feast. God does not invite us only once. He continually invites us throughout our lives. Unfortunately, there are those, including people we may know, who choose not to accept God’s invitation. It is up to us as people of God to save as many souls as possible in a gentle and non-judgmental manner.
At various times, we all have fallen short of the glory of God. All of us either have or have not accepted God’s invitations. Like those in the parable, we affect others when we choose not to accept. Sometimes, we don’t accept the invitation because our priorities lie somewhere else, like the invited guest who ignored the invitation, who went to his farm, or the other who went to his business.
Sometimes, we have our selfish agendas based on our own interests, our own will, and our own personal needs and wants. By choosing ourselves over God, we begin to break our bond with him. We gradually refuse God himself. This leads to breaking our bonds with everyone else who is being invited as well.
Unfortunately, we may also react negatively to those who bear God’s invitation. God sends us his invitation in many different situations and through many people: parents, grandparents, children, siblings, coworkers, and neighbors. When we react negatively, we rupture the common relationship we share with others invited to the wedding. Rather than being in communion with others, we literally dwell in isolation.
Many of us live in a state of continual rupture and isolation in our daily lives. This reality will not change unless we can sincerely ask ourselves, “What keeps me from accepting God’s invitation to go to the wedding banquet he is preparing for me?”
As people of faith, we must properly prepare ourselves to accept God’s invitation to the heavenly banquet. What does this mean? This parable is about the coming of the end time where final judgment will occur. Accepting the wedding invitation also requires the necessary changes to be worthy of the invitation. God invites all of us to the banquet of his Son, but a real conversion is required of everyone: a conversion of heart and mind and of trying our best to live a life that is pleasing to God.
Many are invited, but few are chosen. Many people, especially in some of the other religious denominations, believe they can get by on faith alone because they believe, but it is more than that, “Faith without works is dead" (Ja. 2:17). Faith must be put into action by our words and deeds, by doing what is pleasing to God. Accepting the invitation means “getting our lives right with God” and keeping our lives “right with God.”
Many are invited, but few are chosen. However, accepting the invitation and showing up is never enough for full participation in the heavenly banquet. We must also be clothed in the proper wedding garment – the garment of conversion and repentance. Without the proper wedding garment, we, like the unfortunate guest in the parable, will be cast into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
You will never receive an invitation more important than this one. Our possibility of getting to heaven is truly a gift from God. He invites us even though we are sinners, even though we don’t always take his Son’s death and resurrection seriously, and even though we continue to fall despite having all the grace and strength we need to overcome temptation.
As we reflect on this Scripture passage, let us accept God’s invitation to the heavenly banquet he has prepared for us by living a genuinely Christian life that prefers virtue to sin, generosity to selfishness, humility to pride, and love for our brothers and sisters.
Author: Deacon Michael Taylor, Archdiocese of New Orleans at Blessed Trinity Parish in New Orleans, Louisiana. Deacon Taylor is the current Secretary of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus.