Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Inviting Them to the Wedding Banquet

A couple of weeks ago, the Sunday Gospel, in the Extraordinary Form, was from the 22nd chapter of Matthew:

The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son.
And he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come.  Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come ye to the marriage. But they neglected, and went their own ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death.

But when the king had heard of it, he was angry, and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city.

Then he saith to his servants: “The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage.”

And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests. And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?” But he was silent.

Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
For many are called, but few are chosen.

When I read this at Vigils, I was struck by a few thoughts that haven’t occurred to me before, related to my own life. First, I thought of the servants who were sent out “into the highways” to compel people to come to the wedding feast. I remember how often we were exhorted to do this in the Protestant Pentecostal church I once attended. But the other night, it occurred to me that I’ve also been out there calling people I know to come into  the heavenly banquet, and have been ignored, just like those servants; I have also been in that second group of servants, doing my best to convince the fallen-away Catholics I know to return to the fold. I haven’t been murdered for my trouble, like the servants in the Gospel – at least in a literal sense! But I have been attacked in some subtle ways by family members who resent my reminding them of their fallen-ness, and sometimes those subtle ways hurt quite a bit. But it is a small price to pay, if only someone will listen!

It has become more and more important to me to tell people the Truth of our Catholic faith, and yet, no one has responded to my pleas. It breaks my heart, especially when I think of those people burning in hell because they failed to heed a warning from me or some other servant.

And then there is that last bit about the man who entered the feast without a wedding garment. I think here of my friend who was all set to be received into the Church, but for the wrong reasons. He wanted to be Catholic because he and I were friends, and since I was Catholic, and had told him he should be, too, he wanted to comply. But he didn’t believe in the Real Presence, nor the perpetual virginity of Mary, nor the hierarchy of the Church, nor a few dozen other things.  So although he says he believes in Jesus, he really doesn’t – at least not in the Jesus who founded the one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church! Now, when I realized he did not believe the critical doctrines of the Church, I told him he could not become Catholic. He said he still wanted to; I told him he wanted to for the wrong reasons. And when I told him that he would stand before the local congregation and say “I believe and profess all that the Catholic Church believes, teaches, and professes”, he saw that he could not say that; and he dropped out of RCIA at that point. Well, thank goodness! Because in the end he’d have been receiving Holy Communion unworthily, and he would have eventually been “cast into the exterior darkness”!

Sometimes I feel like a complete failure at this whole evangelization thing. On the other hand, who knows which person might be influenced by something I have said to him or her? Just because I don’t see an immediate result doesn’t mean that my efforts will remain fruitless. I just keep on trying.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

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