I am sure we have all heard heaven referred to as the heavenly banquet. We are all invited to participate in this feast. It all hinges on how we respond to this heavenly invitation from God and it involves more than just saying yes.
In the First reading Isaiah states: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines … The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face …” It represents, eternal fellowship, joy and peace in communion with God. He will destroy death caused by sin forever, but we must do our part and turn away from our sinful ways.
In the Gospel, the guests first invited to the wedding banquet were deaf and blind to their own sins. They clung to them as if their life depended on them, even to the point of killing the king’s servants. The king’s invitation represents God calling us out of the darkness into His light so that we can recognize our sinfulness and make the required changes in our lives. Change can be hard as sin blinds us and makes us deaf to God’s call. Do you hear God’s invitation? Do you hear God personally calling you to Holiness?
In the 1980 presidential debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, Reagan asked the question “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” It was a very simple but telling question. The answer was a resounding “No”.
We can ask ourselves a similar question, “Are we closer to God than we were a year ago?” If we were called home today by our Lord, would we be prepared to enter into the heavenly feast? Have we let go of our sinful ways? Let’s ponder that for a moment.
Once upon a time there was an old woman who died that was very self-centered. The devil caught her and plunged her into hell. So her guardian angel thought there must be at least one good deed of hers he could bring before God; ‘She once pulled up an onion in her garden,’ he said to God, ‘and gave it to a beggar that came to her door.’ And God answered: ‘You take that onion then, hold it out to her, and see if you can pull her out, if yes, then let her come to Paradise, but if the onion breaks, then the woman must stay where she is.’
The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her. ‘Come,’ he said, ‘catch hold and I’ll pull you out.’ He began cautiously pulling her out. When other sinners in hell saw how she was being drawn out, they began grabbing hold of her so as to be pulled out with her. She began kicking them and yelling; ‘I’m to be pulled out, not you. It’s my onion, not yours.’ As soon as she said that, the onion broke and the woman fell back into hell.
It is not that the deed was not good enough, it was that she never let the good deed change her at her core.
This is the same as the king’s wedding invitation. The king represents God and we are the guests invited to share in the heavenly banquet for all eternity. A key point to the parable is in the last sentence which states; “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” There are certain expectations regarding those coming to the feast. The man who was not properly dressed and was banished from the wedding banquet represents someone who received the invitation but did not make the changes in his life necessary to gain entrance. He did not let the invitation change him at his core just like the old woman with the onion.
The question to us is do we recognize that our Lord is inviting us to share in the divine life? We need to wake up to God’s invitation. This waking up means that we must make whatever changes we need to in our lives that will allow us entry into the wedding banquet and enjoy the feast. We must shed our sinful ways so that we are properly clothed in the light of Christ. We must allow the invitation to change us at our core.
This comes back to the question asked a couple weeks ago. What are our priorities in life? There are those that do not respond to God’s call, but even if we do, we must be willing to make a permanent change in our life, to accept conversion. How much are we like the guests invited to the wedding banquet? Even in the midst of our Lord, do we choose Him or our self-absorbed tendencies?
We were given the proper garment to be welcomed into the heavenly feast at Baptism. We are nourished through the Eucharist to keep the faith and reject the temptations in life that are reflected in the choices of the wedding guests. Through the Sacrament of Penance we are reconciled with God. Reconciliation shows our humility in the face of our sinful failures. God gives us every opportunity to accept His invitation and present ourselves unstained by sin when we are called to the heavenly banquet.
It is up to us to make the choice. Are we ready to be called today? We do not know the day nor the hour. Take heart, God loves us and chooses us to be with Him, now let us choose God over our sinfulness, and accept His invitation to the heavenly banquet by rejecting our sins and reconciling ourselves with God. Look in the mirror, do you see yourself properly clothed in the garment of salvation which you received at Baptism?