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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The wedding feast of Heaven

Today's readings also include the parable of the wedding feast from Matthew 22:1-14. As our university chaplain explained today with a chuckle, there's nothing wrong in itself with tending your farm or business. But such harmless activities must not become more important than the kingdom of Heaven -- in which case they do become idols. Something else that caught my attention was a man not wearing the festal garment. Two questions come up for me: why was this man punished for this, and why did the Lord see fit to include this man in his parable? My Bible commentary goes thus:

You, Christians, who are already inside the Church, do you wear the new garment — a life of justice, honesty and trustworthiness? Let us not believe that the surprised guest who was not properly dressed for the occasion was some kind of poor person. No, for it was customary during those times to supply all guests with the robe they should wear at the banquet. This one could ahve put on the robe but did not, so he had nothing to answer.
I think St. Paul's words in Romans 12:1-2, I think from today's morning prayer (from the common of women saints religious: St. Rose of Lima) are appropriate here:
I beg you, by the mercy of God, to offer yourselves as a living and holy sacrifice, pleasing to God; this is the worship of a rational being. Don't let yourselves be shaped by the world where you live, but rather be transformed through the renewal of your mind. You must discern the will of God: what is good, what pleases, what is perfect.
It is not lost on me that St. Paul's imperative (if that is the term for it) words are confronting: our choice is before us — and he begs that we choose wisely. We have been brought into the banquet, the festal garment is ours to wear, but we must put it on — keep it on.

We have come into the banquet. Though we will never ourselves be worthy, we have been gathered and brought into the hall — purely by grace. The robe of the feast is ours to wear. Let us not be so foolish as to take it off.

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