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Last Sunday’s reading was confusing: a King that was ignored by his friends; no one came to the wedding. So he sent multiple invitations and yet they refused to come. Jesus used this parable to remind the Jews that God has sent several prophets inviting them to his heavenly kingdom, but because of their “busy lives” they ignored God.
The king then sent for whomever is on the road; good and bad. For the Jews that meant the pagans, the atheists, the prostitutes and the sinners. God is inviting everyone to the kingdom, not only the Jews. The invitation is for everyone. Why, then, did the King/God threw one of the guests out in the streets for not wearing the appropriate garments?
Think for a second, as there is an obvious contradiction: the King invited everyone, including the people on the road (maybe homeless), and yet when they showed up (remember that his friends did not show up) he rejects the one not dressed to his standards. If he is a loving God: welcoming, inviting everyone; why did he have the man tied up and thrown out?
This parable has to be understood in its context and has more than one interpretation. The simple one is that the man’s soul was stained by sin, he had not accepted God.
Another interpretation is that the man was there not for the wedding, but to gossip, to get free food and maybe find a girlfriend. I had a cousin who loved to go to funerals, not because she knew the deceased, most of the time she did not, but because she loved the crying and the drama and, of course, the reception. I have seen people who go to church every Sunday and yet they miss the point. They never deal with their bitterness and their anger. They never forgive and they never forget. They are invited to church every Sunday, they are invited to the feast of God, but in truth they don’t get it. Could they be like the man who was not wearing the right attire in the wedding banquet?
A more mystic interpretation is that God is inviting everyone, but his friends have gotten used to him, so they do not respect him or revere him as they should. Is like the new couple who just got married, the first couple of years they are into each other, but pass several years they fail to appreciate each other. They take the other for granted and forget their birthdays and even dinner. They are not as happy anymore. So with God, there are people who converted and started to go to church more often, but at some point they lost their motivation and God became another thing to do in their list of chores. That’s what happened to the Jews, they got bored of God. That’s what happens to many priests, their sermons are dull and boring, their masses are routine. They lost the sense of sacredness and they lost the connection.
So God sends more prophets to wake up his people. Some will come at different times in their lives, some people return to church in their thirties or maybe in their last years of life. And that’s ok; it is beautiful to see people return to God. But, what is not acceptable is when people do not take time to dress up for the feast. In a mystical sense to dress up is to clothe the soul with light, with acts of mercy and with random acts of kindness. When you are invited to a funeral, you know what blouse or shirt to choose, you cannot wear anything of any color, just in the same way, God’s invitation requires a response from us, the guests. We are to clothe ourselves carefully to meet God. And I get it, I understand that there are some people who do not believe in God or do not hold him as being important. It may be that his parents never taught him about God. So what will happen to him when he gets to St. Peter’s door?
The gospel of today is frightening for such people, as they will not be accepted into the banquet. They will be thrown out into the darkness. This is where the Church struggles with the love of God. A mother will never throw her son out on the streets, no matter how horrible he might be. So why is God’s love inferior to a mother’s love? Is a mother naïve and stupid? Should she throw her son to the furnace and let him burn for his disrespectful behavior?
This is where other scriptures can help us to better understand Jesus’ parable. His story is attempting to teach us how to avoid being thrown out into the fire. He is warning us. His story is not to scare us into a NON action, but into action. He is expecting us to WANT to be in heaven with God, so, he wants to motivate us to change our hearts and the way we see things. HE is expecting a positive response: what do you mean that my bank is not giving me interests on my savings? That’s it I will march to the teller and change banks. What do you mean that my prayers fall short? So I will make sure that I add extra time and extra efforts so that my prayers count.
The problem with the Gospel and with scriptures in general is that they are stories to create awareness within us and to help us change our perceptions (and our actions). Many people take them in a negative way: the bible says that God will throw me out, then that’s it, why should I change? Sometimes, we take the parables too literal and in isolation. They are so literal that we forget God’s attributes (love, compassion, forgiveness) and we see the story in isolation (we fail to see the bible as a whole and see other scriptures that can illuminate the story).
The parable of the king who invited people to his wedding is an allegory: it speaks of God’s multiple efforts of inviting us to live a different life. Every parable, especially all the ones we have read for the past month are pointing in the same direction; towards God. Those who get too comfortable in their journey will miss their exit, but those who are alert make it safe back home.
Have a wonderful week. Don’t forget to be nice to strangers and to those in need.
Thank you and many blessings!
Rev. Marc Angelo, MDiv, MBAacc
I would like to announce that I have been chosen to be consecrated bishop. On November 18, 2017 I will be consecrated at 11:00am. In order to be recognized by the Vatican as legit, three bishops will be present. It promises to be a great celebration and the beginning of a new mission. Please pray for me as I get ready for this new step.
Remember that you can listen to some of my sermons in English and Spanish on the webpage: http://archangelschurch.org – look for past sermons.
Fr. Marc Angelo
2851 W. 120th St. Suite E-279, Hawthorne CA 90250
Fr. Marc Angelo
Fr. Marc Angelo and Fr. Jacob are very appreciative of your support and your contribution to Archangels and Seraphim Church: please continue to support us by visiting http://archangelschurch.org/ and making a generous donation. You can also send a check to: 2851 W. 120th St. Suite E-279, Hawthorne, CA 90250. May God multiply your generosity in health and love! Thank you
Mass every Sunday at 5:00pm (Spanish) and 6:00pm (English) at St. Mary’s in Palms 3647 Watseka Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034-3914