Pastoral Sharings: "28th Sunday in Ordinary Time"


Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Twenty-Eigthth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 12, 2014 

The Parable set before us today is quite an interesting 
one. We can easily see who the various characters 
represent. For example the host is God the Father, the 
Son is Jesus, the servants are the Prophets and the 
banquet is the Feast of Heaven. The people to whom the 
first invitation is given are the Jews; but when they fail to come to the wedding for whatever reason the invitation is then opened up to the Gentiles.

However among scholars there are conflicting views about the wedding garment and what it represents. However, according to me, we can say that although the invitation is now open to people seemingly chosen at random, good and bad alike, there are some standards and failure to meet those standards results in the ungrateful guest being cast out.

We have noted that the parables we have had for the last few weeks have been addressed to the Chief Priests and the Elders of the People and this is another one in the series. These parables are meant to highlight the fact that the senior Jews have effectively misused the privileged relationship that God had given them and that through the sacrifice that Christ was about to make this invitation was now to be extended to the whole world.

Those first invited to the banquet have various excuses; as it says, ‘one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them.’ The invitation so graciously given has been ignored and the messengers of God have been maltreated and even killed.

It is unbelievable that those who hear God’s invitation should be so preoccupied with their own affairs that they reject it. Even more unbelievable that some of them turn on God’s Prophets to attack and kill them.

Of course, this rejection of God’s messengers is not something confined to the past but is just as much present today. The people of today’s world are far more preoccupied with making money or indulging their own desires rather than ensuring their entrance into the Kingdom of God.

This is an ever present problem for humanity. We have a kind and gentle God who does not force himself upon us but simply invites us to share eternal life with him. The initiative as to whether we take up his offer is completely left to us. The problem is that we are so preoccupied with other things, so distracted with the things of this world, that most of us don’t even hear the gracious invitation of our Creator God.

However, we, the members of the Church, have heard the invitation. We have understood God’s plan for us and we are glad to follow him and we choose each day to embrace the life he has prepared for us.

We should note that those who come in the second batch of guests are not necessarily any better than the members of the first group. The main thing is that they have taken up the invitation; they have responded to the call of God.

Like those in the first group we still do get distracted from time to time. We still fall into sin and frequently forget the correct direction of travel; but hopefully because we have initially responded to God’s invitation we will soon come to our senses and return again to the path of fidelity.

We ought to reflect further on the significance of the wedding garment.

Once we set out on the road to salvation we need to equip ourselves with whatever is necessary to be good citizens of the Kingdom of God. What this means is that we must assiduously acquire the virtues; the living out of the virtues being the essential requirement of anyone who wants entrance to the Kingdom of God. It is these virtues that are in my view represented in the story as the wedding garment.

What are these virtues that we should try so hard to acquire? Well they are all extremely positive things such as goodness, purity, hope, perseverance, temperance, prudence, courage, justice, fidelity, patience, self-control and so on.

In short these are all the qualities that enhance human life. The opposite to a virtue is a vice which is something that breaks us down or perverts our true nature. Vices are negative traits; things which are immoral or sinful and which breakdown our character. Examples include lust, avarice, envy, anger, gluttony, sloth, pride and so on.

It is important to understand that both virtue and vice are habitual aspects of our nature. This means that the more we do a certain thing the more it becomes part of our character; it becomes more easily repeatable and eventually defines who we are.

Thinking about this for two minutes we come to realise that the way to human completeness is to acquire good habits rather than bad habits. We understand very well that those whose lives are given over to negative habits are on the road to destruction while those people who assiduously acquire good habits are on the road to wholeness.

There is an old saying: as a tree leans so shall it fall. According to this the more you fill your life with all that is good and true and beautiful the more likely you are to end your life living in this way. And of course for the Christian this means ending up living eternal life in bliss with the saints in the Kingdom of God.

Those whose lives are full of vice and all that is negative will necessarily end their lives living in this way and will inevitably end up spending eternity in hell in the company of the Devil and all that is evil.

The equation is simple. The choice is yours. We are all of us invited to the wedding banquet but we must not neglect to put on the wedding mantle of the virtues so that we are fully accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven and all the joys it promises.

So let us resolve today to live lives that are true and good and holy. Let us resolve to shun evil and all that is destructive to our human nature. Let us pray that by following the right path we end up as members of God’s Kingdom enjoying eternity with the one who understands us better than anyone.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
October 12, 2014

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A—October 12, 2014
In a parable, Jesus describes a great wedding feast. Those who get invitations would be wise to ask: “What should I wear?”

Gospel (Read Mt 22:1-14)

In the last of three parables in this portion of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus continues to describe the kingdom of God for “the chief priests and elders.” Today, He compares it to “a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” We should be able to recognize this as an allegory of salvation history right away. It begins with what we usually think of as the end of the story of God and man. The “wedding feast” is a reference to the ultimate union of God’s people with Christ in heaven.

28th Sunday: Wearing our Christianity
This is not a good Sunday for you if you are on a diet.  The first reading talks about the banquet of the Lord, where there will be juicy, rich food.  Heaven will be pastry without cholesterol.   

The gospel talks about the wedding banquet that a king prepares for his son, only to have the invited refuse to come and even mistreat his servants.  The King then invites strangers to the meal, who have a whopping great time.  Then, in what really is a second parable added on, the king spots a man without the proper wedding garment.  He gets really upset and throws the man out where there will be a weeping a gnashing of teeth.

Don’t let this Sneaky Sin Keep You from the Party
At age 16, life was about rock ‘n roll. If my own band was not performing on Saturday night, I was out in the audience watching another band.

It would have never occurred to me to spend my Saturday nights at a Catholic conference or retreat. True, no matter how late I was out, I’d never miss Sunday Mass. But that’s not because it was the source and summit of my life. It was because I didn’t want to go to hell! Being roasted over an open fire for all eternity definitely did not appeal to me. But neither did wasting my Saturday night in a Church event that was not strictly required by divine law.

Do You Long to Deepen Your Faith and Relationship with God?
Do you have a desire to deepen your faith and relationship with God?

There is an exciting and much-needed offering I wish to share with our readers called the The Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, founded by Dan Burke.  Dan and I have been good friends for a number of years. His speaking, writing, and work at EWTN and the National Catholic Register, along with his award winning book, Navigating the Interior Life, and his spiritual direction blog have changed the lives of countless thousands around the world. He recently took some time with me to talk about his latest venture.

Go to Your Mother
Traditionally, the month of October is dedicated to the Rosary, and May is dedicated to Mary. But every day is a good time to examine — and implement — Marian devotions.

Some well-known Catholics share d their favorite ones with the Register: The Rosary was by far the most cited Marian prayer. But the Miraculous Medal devotion, Salve Regina, Angelus and Marian consecration of St. Louis de Montfort were also among their practices, along with devotions to the Blessed Mother under the titles of Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Why the Rosary is Not “Vain Repetition”
Protestants sometimes charge Catholics with “vain repetition” in praying the rosary. This is a reference to Matthew 6:7 where Jesus instructs, “When you pray to not babble with vain receptions as the pagans do.”

Sure, when we pray the rosary there is a lot of repetition. The problem is not repetition but vain repetition. If repetition were the problem Jesus would be have an “Errrm whadabout..” moment with Psalm 136 in which every verse ends with “for his mercy endures forever.” No there’s not a problem with repetition was such, but with vain repetition.

Imitation of the Saints
One aspect of the Catholic religion that many non-Catholics don’t understand is our devotion to the saints.  Many of our ‘separated brethren’ can’t comprehend our veneration of the Roman Church’s holiest members.  Some think that we worship them and regard us as idolaters.  This isn’t true: we believe in one God which we profess every Sunday in the Creed, which includes the communion of saints.  We pray to the saints and they pray for us.

Pope: Pray for the Unity of Christians
The Holy Father said that we ought to ‘accentuate that which unites us: Jesus and the richness of his love.’

VATICAN CITY — Speaking to the crowds that filled St. Peter’s Square during his weekly general audience on Oct. 8, Pope Francis repeated his consistent theme of warning against divisiveness among Christians.

Give glory to God by being honest about sins he forgave, pope says
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Giving glory to God for what he has done in one’s life means being absolutely honest about one’s sins and failures, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.

“The practice of remembering our histories is not very common. We forget things; we live in the moment,” the pope said Oct. 7 during his morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives.

“Each one of us has a story: a story of grace, a story of sin, a story of journey, many things,” he said. “And it’s good to pray with our story,” to recognize our failures and how, despite our sin and infidelity, God continues to seek us out, call us back and offer his grace.

Sacraments Are the Touch of God
The gates lay shattered at His feet. Below Him was nothing but the darkening abyss. But He is all light. On the left and right sit open graves. Out of them come a very old man—the oldest soul in the universe—and his wife. He is clutching their wrists. But they do not grab hold: no one can pull themselves out of this place.

Such is the harrowing of hell as depicted on icons. It’s what Christianity has traditionally understood as one of Christ’s chief objectives during his sojourn in the land of the dead: the rescue of Adam, Eve, and others like Abraham and David who had died in a state of grace but before His coming, ending up on the shores of hell, or the Limbo of the Fathers.

Infant Baptism
The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us the most important reasons why we must baptize infants:

Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth (CCC 1250).

Reflections on Mass and Marriage
There have been times when I realized a day was a Holy Day of Obligation and I bristled at the idea of fitting Mass into my schedule. I love Mass, but even with numerous times to pick from it felt like a hardship if there wasn’t one that perfectly fit my schedule. I’ve hardly ever had to deal with the real hardship of a genuine scarcity of Masses.

Two weeks ago I returned from a trip to Turkey where, for the first time in my memory, I was in a city on a Sunday without a single Mass to attend. It was a strange juxtaposition, because on other days of that trip I saw sacred Catholic sites including the tomb of John, the Apostle, and what is believed to be Mary’s house.

Why is Christian Marriage Indissoluble?
I heard some time ago about a Methodist minister who decided that he wanted to do things “more Catholic.” So he started wearing vestments and added a few extra candles to the altar. He began to cross himself and introduced a more formal liturgy. When Lent came along he decided to impose ashes on the people for Ash Wednesday, but his ecclesiastical experiment went awry because he used ashes from his fireplace and mixed them with water. So he went to the Catholic priest and asked where he got “Catholic ashes.” The priest informed him that the ashes for Ash Wednesday were made by burning the palms from the previous Palm Sunday.

“Gee!” said the Methodist, “All this Catholic stuff is connected!”

Our of the mouth of babes…

Surefire Start to Marital Happiness
Marriage was made a sacrament by Jesus. He did so with his first miracle at the wedding at Cana.

“With this sacrament, Jesus Christ reveals his own help in an effective way, in order to save and strengthen the couple’s love through the gift of theological charity and to give them the strength of fidelity. We can also say that the miracle worked by Jesus at the beginning of his public life is a sign of the importance marriage has in God’s saving plan and the formation of the Church,” Pope St. John Paul II stated in a May 1992 audience titled “Christ Made Marriage a Sacrament.”

Forever and Ever, Amen — Part II
In part I of this series, I wrote about two fractured marriages as well as some thoughts to consider from the mind of Archbishop Fulton Sheen on matters of love, sex, and marriage. For years I ignorantly thought Bishop Sheen was a dinosaur in today’s world on such matters. Anyone who has read or listened to anything the good Bishop has said is no doubt violently shaking their head. I am forever grateful to God, who I have learned is particularly patient with the unenlightened.

The Saint That John PaulII Wants Everyone To Imitate
Saint John Paul II declared only one “Doctor of the Church” during his twenty-six year pontificate. He canonized a total of 480 men and women and yet he only held up one saint as a prime example of holiness and teaching. That saint was not an accomplished academic or high-ranking ecclesiastic. Instead, it was the “Little Flower,” Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

The Story Behind Divine Forgiveness
Anytime that I attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I love to hear the priest recite the entire formula for absolution over me:

“God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace. And I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers?
Most of us know that simply praying for something you want is not the best way of praying.

God is not a cosmic vending machine in which you put your prayer in the slot and the goodie you want drops into the tray at the bottom.

Don’t get me wrong. God delights in any prayer and he does want us to ask for our daily bread and for all our needs, but there is more to it than that.

Walls Come Tumbling Down
A few years ago, I toured the far north of England. There, stretching 73 miles from coast to coast, the Roman Emperor Hadrian built a massive wall. Constructed of stone, it was built to last, since it marked the northernmost boundary of the greatest empire the world had ever known. Soldiers from every corner of the world were garrisoned there, and excavations tell the fascinating story of their lives and deaths.

Man Who Regained Eyesight Will See His Patron Beatified
The man born blind didn’t enter into any deep analysis of the miracle that occurred to him at the hands of the Lord, according to the Gospel account.

“The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes,” he told his neighbors in John Chapter 9. “He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

Don’t Worry about being “Left Behind.” Have a Holy Fear of being taken up to Judgment
The movie “Left Behind” opens today. And while, in a secular culture dismissive of any consequences for unbelief, we can rejoice in any salutary reminders, it is unfortunate that the reminder is riddled with questionable theology and dubious biblical interpretation.

Ten Things That Changed St Francis Forever…
…and can change you too.

One of the things that makes St Francis so popular is that he was so utterly and completely converted. He was rooted and engrafted into Christ through several remarkable events that transformed him from the inside out.

It is this profound and radical encounter with Christ that can also transform us.

Tolkien’s Advice for Sagging Faith
At one point or another, all Christians have experienced what Tolkien terms “sagging faith.” While there are times when our faith soars and we feel completely in touch with God, it nevertheless often happens that faith seems like an uphill battle. Tolkien was no stranger to this, and I really like what he had to say about the cure for sagging faith.

The Prophetic Voice of the Catholic Church — Dignity of the Human Person and the Right to Life
“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants.” (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta)

We live in an age that is filled with signs and wonders, many of which are ominous and terrifying – our economies continue in turmoil, wars and the fears of terrorism rage, our environment is being polluted in ways unseen before, our families, youth and societal institutions continue their collapse. Some people see these and try to discern their meaning. Others seem to hardly notice at all. The writer of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews opens with verses that emphatically proclaim that God has spoken to us through His Son. We should listen:

Stigmatics Today
On 20 September 1918, while Padre Pio was hearing confessions,  the saint had his first experience of the stigmata.  This powerful identification with Christ occurred for the next fifty years. Witnesses testified that the blood flowing from Padre Pio’s wounds smelled of perfume or flowers.

Padre Pio’s wounds were examined by many physicians. In addition to the stigmata he exhibited the gifts of healing, bilocation, levitation, prophecy and other miracles He also had the ability to read souls, had the gift of tongues and could convert people on the spot.

The Ugliness of Mortal Sin
Sometimes a little phrase jumps off the page or into your ear from a passing conversation.

The Holy Spirit takes that phrase and it becomes a launching pad for a meditation on the mystery of this world.

The phrase I read in passing was “the ugliness of mortal sin”.

When Good Catholics Are Bad People Part II
In part I, we looked at what forgiveness was and wasn’t. But along with prayer and receiving the Sacraments for aid, how can we put it into practice?

In his book Forgive For Good, Luskin gives a number of strategies:

1)  Don’t confuse a lack of motivation to forgive with an unforgivable offense.

Is Christ the Head of Your Home?
My husband called on his way home from work, tired and hungry. He had been in Atlanta since before the sun came up, and now he was stuck in traffic. He still had to go back to his office, which meant passing our house (which was still 25 miles away from where he was) and traveling an additional 46 miles round trip, to put up evidence and tie up loose ends on his case. I could hear the frustration in his voice, as he asked me what we were going to have for dinner.

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