28th Ordinary – Year A – Oct 12, 2008 – Are you having fun?!
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Bottom Line: The man wanted to enjoy the gifts of God without being committed to His Kingdom. This parable confronts us with the question: How do we wear our Christianity? I have a cross around my neck. That’s nice. But that’s insufficient. That’s a mere sign of the Presence of the Lord. To wear our Christianity, our lifestyle must consist in choosing Jesus in every aspect of our lives.
Father Martino Nguyễn Bá Thông (St. Anne Catholic Church – Columbus, GA) 28th Ordinary – Year A (2008) – [email protected]
Are you having fun?!
I do not like wedding receptions. I do my absolute best to avoid them. Wow, at least I’m honest: I tell the bride and groom that I’d much rather go to the dentist. I mean, what does a priest do at a wedding reception? I know what the family of the bride and groom do. They look at your replies to the wedding invitations and say, “Oh my God, old grumpy Aunt Trudy is coming. Who can we seat next to her?” So there I am for two to three hours listening to Aunt Trudy telling me how she doesn’t go to Church anymore because some lousy priest wouldn’t let her put flowers on the altar in memory of her husband just because it was Lent.
Meanwhile all the eyes in the room are on me to see if and how much I am drinking, if I will dance or not. And the family has to pay quite a lot for me to have such a lousy time.
But what we see at the “3 hours” wedding was in planning for months! And you might wonder what really happen to the guests? Why don’t they come? Why do they snub The King’s invitation to His Son’s wedding party? Here is what really happened!
The invitations went out. Most RSVP’s said, “can’t come.” From out of town guests, too far to travel. From relatives and friends living close by, a litany of stories. A homecoming game, a backlog of household chores, an elderly parent to care for. Each story sounded more like an excuse. The King felt snubbed.
Anyway, we are all acquainted with wedding receptions, so this is a good framework for today’s parables. The wedding banquet is used as a reference to union with God. There are three kink of guest here!
The first kind is those who are invited to feast with the Lord find reasons to ignore the invitation. However, the scary thing about the absentee guests is that they are not sinners. They were not engaged in sinful activity. One went to his farm, another to his business. These are gainful and noble employments. Sometimes what keeps us away from the joy of the kingdom is not sin but preoccupation with the necessities of life. To be serious with your job is a good thing, but when your job keeps you away from attending the Lord’s Supper, and then it becomes an obstacle that hinders you from experiencing the joy of the Lord in your life.
There is a saying that the good is the enemy of the best. If only those absentee guests knew what they were missing by not attending the feast! It used to be that people attended church service to fulfill a “Sunday obligation,” otherwise it would be counted against them as sin. This kind of fear no longer motivates young people today.
More people would probable come to church if they knew they were missing out on the fun of celebrating and feasting with the Christian community.
The second is the guest without the wedding garment, to ask the question why is the King so upset? And so mean? Or to speculate on whether he had enough time to go home and put on his wedding garment or maybe, the poor guy didn’t have money for fancy clothes is beside the point of the parable.
The point of the parable is: if you must go the dance, you must wear your dancing shoes. If you must go to a wedding, you must wear your wedding garment. By not wearing a wedding garment, he was physically in the party, but his mind and spirit were not there. He was in the feast but he was not in the mood for feasting. Jesus hates this kind of hypocritical attitude.
To say it in term of “theology” that means, the man was welcome into the Banquet of the Lord, but he refused to put on Jesus Christ. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” St. Paul tells the Romans, and the Galatians, and the Colossians. The man wanted to enjoy the gifts of God without being committed to His Kingdom. This parable confronts us with the question: How do we wear our Christianity? I have a cross around my neck. That’s nice. But that’s insufficient. That’s a mere sign of the Presence of the Lord. To wear our Christianity, our lifestyle must consist in choosing Jesus in every aspect of our lives.
Finally there are the guests who attend the wedding feast, taking care to appear in the proper wedding garment. They are the only ones who have fun and enjoy the party. They are the models whose example we should follow. And that is how our worshiping of God should be!
What happened if one day Martino ask the ushers to give you helium-filled balloons and tell you to release at any point in the service when you fell joy in your hearts. I bet you throughout the service there will be balloons releasing. But at the end of the service there will be a lot of them had not released. Why is that? Because many of us think of God’s house as a place for seriousness, a place to close one’s eyes and pray, but not a place of celebration, a place where we can have fun. The parable of the Great Supper in today’s gospel paints a different picture. The Christian assembly is a gathering of those who are called to the Lord’s party. In the Eucharist we say of ourselves, “Happy are those who are called to his supper.” The Lord invites us to a supper, a banquet, a feast. Can you imagine a wedding feast in which everyone sits stone-faced, cold and quiet?
Fr. Martino Nguyen Ba-Thong
Tóc xanh dù chuyển bạc.. Yêu nhau tình mãi xanh.. Tóc theo màu tuổi tác.. Ta vĩnh hằng trong nhau”!