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WHO WILL GET TO HEAVEN?

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Mt. 22:1-14

Another thought-provoking story features in today's Gospel reading. It was directed at the chief priests and elders and God’s chosen people. Jesus loved them. His words were meant to be a wake-up call for them to save them from losing Heaven. It has a message, too, for each one of us.

Who will get to Heaven? The backdrop is a wedding. The King, who is God the Father, has arranged a wedding banquet for His Son Jesus. The guest list was drawn up ahead of time, and when the day came for the feast, they were notified that all was ready. But some of the guests refused to come.

The King then extends His gracious invitation again, although this time He makes it even more appealing, and He used other messengers. This is so true of the way the Lord calls people to Himself, repeatedly and with all the incentives He can give. When hearing the story are we not amazed that it was necessary for the invitation to be repeated at all! The invitation of the King was both a great honour - and a sovereign command. Surely nobody refuses a King?

The response to this second invitation is rather surprising. Some people paid no attention to the messengers; others seized, mistreated and killed them! The King was so outraged by this that He sent His army to destroy the murderers and burn their city. This is a reference to the fate that would befall Jerusalem after the Jews rejected Christ: the city was razed to the ground in AD 70 by the Roman army.

The King now invites others – the Gentiles, you and me - to the wedding feast. He sends His servants out into the streets in search of all that they could find, whatever their status in life. The banquet hall was soon filled with people wanting to have a share in the King’s wedding feast for His Son. He came into the world to seek and save those who were lost, not those who had rigorously kept the Law and who claimed to be the righteousness to enter the Messianic banquet. The people drawn into the hall were both good and bad – but all in need of God’s invitation to escape the sin and bondage of this world.

The parable tells how the King arrived and found a man who was not wearing the proper wedding clothes. Surely the only suitable clothing, for him and for each of us, is the garment that is woven out of the love we have for God, true repentance for sin, and the kind and charitable deeds we have performed for other people, especially the needy, on a daily basis. This man had none of these and so was not prepared for the invitation he had received. At our Baptism we were officially called to be members of God’s kingdom and through this we have the power to do great things.

The Messianic banquet was extended to the Jews first, but when they refused God turned to the Gentiles, and as many as believed in Him would enter the kingdom. They were all sinners, determined to change their lives for the better. From the statement “many are called and few are chosen” it would appear that more people will reject the invitation than accept it - or fail to meet the requirements of faith in Christ which He expects.

Lord Jesus, may we all realise that the invitation to the heavenly banquet, from God Himself, is the best offer we could ever receive. It is sheer folly to reject such an invitation; it is to choose death. To accept the offer is to accept God’s only provision for eternal life. Help us to make the right choice every day of our lives.

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