The Father invites all to reconcile – Lesson and Discussion
“those who were invited were not worthy to come”
In the parable of the wedding feast, we see a king and his Son. It is important that there is a king and Son. The king is the father who loves his son. We see the king (lover) and the son (beloved), the love between the two is the shared love. The wedding feast manifests the shared love; a love is so grand, that the king and son want others to partake in it. Saint Augustine describes the mystery of the Trinity as a lover, a beloved and the shared love between lover and beloved.[i] God is the lover. Jesus is the beloved. The love shared is so great that it is its own person, the Holy Spirit. Through God’s amazing love for us, He calls us to share in this love. This lesson is lesson 1 of 3 and is focused on the God the Father and how He invites us to reconciliation and communion with Him. We are called into the love of God, first through reconciliation.
The First step is reconciliation. We are called to be reconciled with God. Realize it is us who must reconcile with God and not God reconciling with us. We are the ones who sin and turn away from Him. None of us are worthy to come to the feast, yet the Father still invites us. We remind our self of this at each Mass when we prayer, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”[ii] God is the constant lover. God the lover loves not only the Son, but also all of creation. God “has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) This is why the Church prays each morning in the Canticle of Zachariah, “You my child shall be called the prophet of the most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 1:68-79) Saint John the Baptist called the world to repentance. For the forgiveness of sins gives rise to the knowledge of salvation. We come to the realization that salvation and reconciliation are possible and thus we are prepared to receive the love of Jesus Christ.
MUSIC - SHIROCK - Still Young Official Music Video - POP CULTURE CONNECTION – 4:05
Jesus Christ is the gift of the Father. Jesus Christ is the lover desiring to love us, the beloved. Jesus is the lover, and we are the beloveds. Nothing prevents Jesus from loving us. What prevents us from loving Him? It is true that we long for Him. Saint Augustine says, that are hearts are restless until we rest in God. The man in this video is restless. He is longing for love, but what is holding him back? The baggage that he is carrying holds him back. Once he let’s go of his baggage (sin) and it is destroyed in the fire (absolution), he is free to run toward the one He loves. Once we let go of the baggage we carry we are free to run toward our lover, Jesus Christ. Un-repentance holds us back from accepting the love of God.
We can only be reconciled with God, if God wills the reconciliation. For example the Father in the parable of the prodigal son had every right to not be reconciled with his son. His son had demanded his inheritance and then squandered it carelessly. The father however allows and even desires the reconciliation and when the son repents the reconciliation takes place. It is a joyful reconciliation in which the father throws a feast for the son. In the parable of the wedding feast we again see a father (King), throwing a feast (wedding feast) for his son. The story of the wedding feast is not a story about reconciliation between father and son, but a call to reconciliation for the invited guests. It is the invited guests that the father desires to be united with. In both the parable of the prodigal son and the parable of the wedding feast a feast is given and those desiring reconciliation are present. Also in both parables there are those unwilling to attend the feast.
How do the invited guests respond to the invitation? They ignore it. They are called to reconciliation and communion with the father and they ignore it. What do they choose instead of the feast? Some choose their farm, while some choose their business. This is almost a total rejection from both the spheres of society, agriculture and business, rural and urban, city and country. The invited guests are the chosen people the Israelites and the rejection of the Messiah was widespread in all sectors of life. This is also a warning to us. Many times we have a prejudice that the people in the city are too busy for God, or that the people in the country are too ignorant for God. The parable warns us that all, whether in the city or country, whether they work in business or agriculture are susceptible to ignoring God.
Did all reject the invitation? No. The Gospel says, “Some ignored the invitation and went away.” The Blessed Virgin Mary and the apostles were all faithful Jews and they were not counted in the “some” that ignored the invitation. They whole heartily accepted the invitation. For them and others Christ was the fulfillment of their belief. He was the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
The Father desires not just to be reconciled to the chosen people, but also to the Gentiles and so he commands the servants to go out and get the good and bad alike. The servants, “went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.” Their response from the Gentiles seems to be great; the hall was filled with guests.
The Father in his generosity desires to be reconciled and be in communion with all. Is it easier for the gentile than for the Jew? It appears as if only a few of the Jews responded to the invitation and that many Gentiles responded. We see in the early Church many of the Gentiles did respond to the invitation and the Gospel was spread to the whole world. Are we (the gentiles) still responding with the same zeal and vigor? When Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Patrick, Saint Boniface, Blessed Junipero Serra and all the other missionaries when out into the “main roads,” the response was many times positive, and the “hall (church) was filled with guests.” In modern times, the gentiles have become like the chosen people in the parable, who have now begun to ignore the invitation. What has caused the gentiles (us) to ignore the invitation of God in the modern world?
In many countries that were once evangelized there is now a need to re-evangelize. “Today, after twenty centuries, the Church senses the urgency and the duty to carry on with renewed efficacy the work of evangelizing the world and re-evangelizing Europe. It is a pastoral choice, repurposed in view of the third millennium, which flows from the mission to save the whole man and all men in the truth of Christ. Today more than ever, the evangelization of the world is tied to the re-evangelization of Europe.”[iii] This is one of the reasons that Saint John Paul II began World Youth Days and so many other apostolates and initiatives have formed. This new or re-evangelization is part of the Church’s saving mission. The Church exists for the sake of the world and therefore is like the servants in this parable, who go out into the main roads and invite whoever they find. How can we re-evangelize in our homes, schools, work places, towns?
What are the “main roads” in our time? One of the main roads in our time is the Internet. Saint Paul used the Roman roads, which were the most high tech latest means of travel and communication in his time. The Church must now and does us the “main roads” of our time. The Church has great websites, TV stations, radio stations, etc. How can we use these main roads to evangelize? What kind of invitation is being sent out on our Facebook, Twitter, and cell phone? What kind of invitation are we listening to on the Internet, the TV, the movies, music, etc.? Where do we see the invitation of God in modern media?