Fr. Mike’s Homily for Thursday of the 20th week in Ordinary Time Cycle I
Theme: Many are invited, but few are chosen
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches
Homily for Thursday August 19 2021
Jesus again in reply spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Today we read another parable of the Kingdom, and the message is still related to yesterday’s parable of the workers in the vineyard. It says that God’s kingdom is offered first to the Jews, God’s Chosen People. But they rejected the offer. So, God invites the outsiders and the latecomers – the Gentiles – to be part of His kingdom.
The parable in the Gospel today is rather long. This is because Matthew combines two parables into one: the first is about the invitation to the king’s wedding banquet, and the second is about the wedding garment. The former is about God’s initiative to bring people to salvation. The latter is about the final judgment.
Let us take the first one. The king invites everyone in his kingdom to attend the wedding feast for his son. “But they refused to come”! For any normal thinking person, this is just preposterous! It is an invitation to the palace for the king’s wedding feast! To be on the guest list of the king is such a great honor. And since the banquet is hosted by the king himself, there is superabundant food and spectacular entertainment. And everything is free of charge!
But they refuse to come. This is truly sad! The party, nevertheless, proceeds with or without them. They just do not realize what they are missing. Their only concern is their own affairs: farm, business and personal matters. It can be safely surmised that the underlying reason for their refusal to come is their lack of love for the king. It simply means he is not considered a significant part of their life.
Unfortunately, there are many people who are like them. This is seen in the way they behave towards God and in their spiritual life, particularly in their attitude towards Holy Mass. Before receiving Holy Communion, the priest invites us, taking the words from the Book of Revelation: “Happy are those invited to the Supper of the Lamb!” In previous translations, the term used is “Banquet of the Lord”. The King’s banquet, therefore, that is being referred to in the parable is the Holy Mass, which is a preview and mysterious participation of that Eternal Banquet in heaven.
The Lord always invites us, “Come to my banquet!” But many people do not mind the invitation, being only interested in their own worldly affairs. They do not realize what they are missing. Certainly, we may conclude that they do not really love the Eternal King. And by rejecting the invitation, they are grievously insulting Him.
And for us here who accepted the invitation, we must always remind ourselves that the reason for coming to Mass should be mainly and primarily our love of the Lord who is hosting ‘The Banquetʹ.
And this brings us to the second part of the parable. It is not enough to say ‘yes’ to the invitation. We also must be ‘properly dressed’. What is the ‘wedding garment’ that we must put on in order to be admitted to the banquet?
It clearly stands for faith and baptism. But these are not enough. St. Paul points out that the ‘wedding garment’ is love, the “bond of perfection.” He said this in his Letter to the Colossians: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones…, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another… And over all these, put on love, that is, the bond of perfection” (3:12-14). He further extols the indispensable value of love in his First Letter to the Corinthians (1Cor 13).
That is why in the Gospel a few days ago, the rich young man went away sad because he realized he could not gain eternal salvation. The reason is obvious: he does not really love God and his neighbor. He is just too concerned about himself and his wealth. He is not wearing the required ‘wedding garment’.
And so Jesus concludes, “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Being baptized, or being called ‘Christian’ or ‘Catholic’ is not enough. Love is truly necessary to be pleasing in the eyes of God. St. Therese of Lisieux said: “You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches