BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas

Mt. 22:1-14
One night, a man came home drunk. He ordered his wife, “I’m hungry. Give me something to eat!” The wife replied, “It’s all there on the table. It’s up to you to choose.” Upon seeing what is on the table, the man complained: “What? With only one piece of dried fish, what choice do I have?”
“Well,” the wife said softly, “you can choose: to eat or not to eat.”

As human beings, we have the power to choose. This is because God gave us the gift of freedom. While the animals and other creatures are governed by their instincts, we human beings are not. We have control over our instincts because we have our intelligence and freedom. This is what makes us image and likeness of God: our freedom that enables us to love. There is no love without freedom. That is why God respects our freedom. Unfortunately, we can abuse this freedom, and even choose and decide to reject God. This is what the Gospel this Sunday is all about.

In the parable, the king invited certain people to the wedding feast. Unfortunately, they rejected the invitation. So, he offered his invitation to outsiders, people in the byroads, and these filled the hall with banqueters.

The wedding feast is the image of the salvation that God offers to all. It is a “wedding” since it is a celebration of love, and it speaks of the loving union of God and man. It is a “feast” since it promises abundant blessings and eternal joy in the glory in heaven, in the presence of God and in company with all the angels and saints. God wants all people to be saved. But He can only invite; He cannot force or compel anybody to come, because He respects our freedom. We have to accept His invitation freely. We have to love Him freely.

That is why, although God wants everybody to be saved, not all will be saved. There are two reasons. First, there will be those who reject the Lord’s invitation. They use their freedom to reject God. St. Alphonsus Maria Ligouri said, “The greater part of men choose to be damned rather than love Almighty God.” And according to St. Isidore of Seville, “The greater part of men will set no value on the Blood of Christ, and go on offending Him.”

Many people think that freedom is the power to do anything they like. They believe they can commit sin and evil because they are free. That is not freedom but slavery. A youngster who chooses drugs is not free – he becomes a slave to drug addiction. A man who leaves his wife for another woman does not gain freedom. Rather, he is saddled with more marital problems, and one of them is having more than one mother-in- law! A woman who tells a lie is not free – she has to tell a thousand lies to cover up the first lie. That is why Jesus said: “The truth will set you free.” Rejecting God by choosing a life of sin and depravity is not freedom; it is an abuse of freedom, and it leads to the worst kind of slavery.

Second, many will not be saved because they do not obey the will of God. This is the lesson of the parable about the man who came to the marriage feast not dressed in a wedding garment. What is this wedding garment? St. Augustine said, “This is the wedding garment: ‘But the goal of the commandment,’ says the Apostle (Paul) ‘is love from a pure heart, and from a good conscience and from an unfeigned faith.’ It’s only such love that is the wedding garment.”

St. Paul urges us to clothe ourselves with the garment of love: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also do. And over all these, put on love, that is, the bond of perfection” (Col 3:12-14). After all, that is the central commandment of Jesus: “I give you a new commandment: love one another As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34). Love is our garment or uniform that distinguishes us as Christians: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

Saying “yes” to God’s invitation is easy. But fulfilling the various demands of that “yes” is never easy, for it means rejecting sin and living a life of total obedience to the will of God; turning away from selfishness and pride, and learning to be generous in sharing oneself to others in humble service. Ultimately, it means putting into practice the commandment of love. Those who accept God’s invitation but are not willing to put on the garment of love, cannot be admitted to the wedding feast of the Lord.

The celebration of the Holy Mass is called “heaven on earth”, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. Before Communion, we hear the words: “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb.” This is not only an invitation to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion. It is also an invitation to the eternal wedding feast in heaven.

God wants everybody to be saved. Therefore, let us always say “yes” to His invitation, and continually transform our lives, clothing ourselves with the garment of love, so that we may worthily enter the eternal joy and glory of heaven.

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422

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