BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu

Both our first reading and Gospel passage describe the kingdom of God (heaven) in terms of a banquet, a place of abundance of food and drinks. However, St. Paul would say: “The kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17), meaning that we need to go beyond the surface to find out the actual message and when we do that, we discover that there are some lessons to learn from our readings today.

1. Heaven is Sweet.

The sweetness of heaven is beyond words; it is indeed a place to be; a place to long for, a place worth dying for, a place you long to be and remain forever. Peter only saw a tiny flash of it at the transfiguration and he confessed: “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Matthew 17:4.

For those who witnessed the miracle of the Sun in Benin City recently, they can testify that it was such a glory to behold. At the ground, many dropped freely on their knees to pray, some were filled with tears, many prayed like never before but generally, the atmosphere was engulfed in excitement. If something as small as this could bring so much joy, I wonder how sweet heaven will be.

2. There is Danger in Giving Excuses to God.

There is nothing more important than heaven. Those who were invited for the wedding feast gave excuses to the servants sent to call them. And all these excuses bothered on material things; farm, business, other interests etc. How come I am willing to spend a whole day working at the office, doing business, or in my farm trying to put food on the table, yet when it comes to reading my bible, praying the rosary or spending time before the Blessed Sacrament, I say to myself, “there is no time”?

How come I tend to pursue money more than my spiritual life? Like St. Paul says in our second reading, I must learn to adapt, I must learn the secret of facing plenty or hunger, abundance and want. What is this secret? It is being able to put God first in everything. When St. Paul says God will supply every need of ours according to his riches in glory, St. Paul was not trying to say God intends to make us millionaires, he meant to say God will give us the ability to adapt and be content in all circumstances; be it in abundance or want, plenty or hunger.

3. The need to listen to God’s Messengers.

Jesus tells us that some of the invited guests even went as far as treating the servants sent to them shamefully and killing them. How do I react when I am corrected? Do I humbly apply correction in my life or do I find all kinds of fault with persons who correct me; judge them, condemn them or even carry false stories about them?

How many times have I killed a man/ woman of God with my mouth all because I don’t like to hear the truth from him like Herodias who sought the head of John the Baptist?

4. Dress as you wish to be ad-dressed.

Even though heaven is free and we all have been invited irrespective of our various states in life, God expects us to honor him by dressing appropriately. When the master came in to look at the guests, he noticed one without a wedding garment and ordered him to be tied and thrown into a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

There is a dress code for heaven. There is a way to cover the body knowing that it is not simply flesh, not simply a marketable item for display (or for slaying), but God’s temple. (1st Corinthians 3:16). Dressing for heaven means living not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:19-23.

5. Live Everyday as if it is Your Last.

Ordinarily, the man who came to the wedding banquet without a wedding garment ought to have been excused. After all, he left his home that day not knowing he would find himself attending a wedding party, he was picked from the streets to fill up empty seats.

Dear friends, none of us knows when the world shall come to an end; none of us knows when he or she shall be called back home. So let us be prepared at all times; let us wear our wedding garments all the time; let us live in the spirit always.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you are my shepherd, deepen my trust in your providing hand that I may not pursue only the things of this world. Amen.

Happy Sunday. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Twenty Eight Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. Bible Study: Isaiah 25:6-10, Philippians 4:12-20 and Matthew 22:1-14).