August 20, 2020 – 20th Week in Ordinary Time

“Responding to the invitation of the Lord and follow the norms of Love, in order to be among the chosen ones!”

(Based on Ezek 36:23-28 and Mt 22:1-14 – Thursday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time)

A story goes of a King in the olden days and of his “clown” or “jester.”

This jester would sometimes say very foolish things whereas sometimes he would make some wise utterances.

One day, it so happened, that this jester said something so foolish that the King handed him a staff and mocked at him saying: “Take this, and keep it… till you find a bigger fool than yourself!”

Years later, the kind fell ill and was on his deathbed. His favourite courtiers were summoned to him; his family and other friends were also around him.

The King, sick and pale, addressed them saying, “I am about to leave.
I am going on a very long journey and will never be returning to this place.
In deep sorrow, I wish all of you ‘goodbye'”

At that moment, the Jester stepped forward and said to the King, “Your Majesty, May I, please, ask a question?”

“When you journeyed abroad – visiting your people, or paying diplomatic visits to other Kingdoms, you have always made sure there is a great deal of preparation that is ensured.

May I kindly ask, what preparations has your Majesty made for this long journey that he is about to take?”

With tears and remorse and self-realization, the King replied, “Alas! I have made no preparation!”

‘Then,’ said the jester…and taking the staff that he had with him, said:
“Then, here is this staff for you. For now I have found a bigger fool than myself.’

Is the state of the King – being unprepared for the journey towards heaven – finding resonance with our own lack of preparations, with respect to eternal life?

The Gospel of the Day presents the parable of the Wedding Feast with a mighty warning to “stay prepared” in our endevours to be part of the Banquet of Eternal Joy in Heaven.

The Parable of the Wedding Feast, broadly speaking, presents two dangerous attitudes that can overpower a Christian:

  1. The arrogant attitude of rejecting God’s omnipotence
  2. The lethargic attitude of taking for granted God’s graciousness

In the first part of the parable, we come across the group of people, who turn down the offer of the King for the Wedding Banquet (Mt 22: 5-6)

They made several excuses…
… some ignored the invitation and went away
… one to his farm
… another to his business
… the rest manhandled the King’s servants

On display was their highly casual and lethargic attitude towards the King.

They were least bothered regarding the royal nature of the invitation
They cared little for the feelings and the sentiments of the King who had called them with much expectations

In the second part of the Gospel, we come across the guest, who failed to wear to the appropriate wedding garment (Mt 22: 11-12)

It was a sheer lack of failure to follow the customs of the land and was a betrayal of the host’s generosity…
… It was customary for the hosts to provide the suitable wedding apparel
… The “speechless” silence of the man, showed his inability to produce any valid reason for this act of disobedience and non-compliance

On display was his highly diminishing and disrespectful attitude towards the King.

He was overly adamant in keeping up the wedding protocols of his times
He was exceedingly proud to acknowledge the generosity of the King and chose to purposely insult the King

These two extremes, then, are fearful plagues that a Christian needs to be wary of…

  1. A devastating tendency to be arrogantly proud towards the Mercies and Favours of God
  2. A dissipated tendency to be lethargic towards the Graces and Blessings of God

Do I put down the power of God…
… by failing to give any response to His constant calls and inspirations to lead a more holy life?
… by busying myself in my worldly activities and failing to give any heed to the works of the Kingdom?
… by engaging constantly only for self-centred glory and sideline anything that promotes the Glory of God?

Do I make a mockery of the Grace of God…
… by professing to be a Christian and yet failing to wear the garments of doing God’s Will and in living His Gospel Virtues?
… by wanting to be proudly seen as a follower of Christ and yet unwilling to follow His teachings and commandments in daily life?
… by enjoying all the comforts that comes alone with being a ‘Christian’ but shamelessly failing to perform the duties associated with it?

The foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet is seen in the Holy Eucharistic Celebration.

The seriousness in our preparation for the Holy Mass is a clear indicator of our seriousness in preparation for the Heavenly Banquet.

Do I approach the wonderful foretaste of Heaven – the Holy Eucharist – with greater devotion and preparation…
… or do I adopt an attitude of arrogant denial of its Holiness or an attitude of lethargy and “taking for granted”?

The Lord adopts a tone of seriousness and strictness, when it comes to our question of preparation for Eternal Life.

There is only one life here on earth – and it deserves to be lived in its utmost fullness by responding to God’s Graces.

Prophet Ezekiel reminds the promise of the Lord, to all those who respond to His Norm of Love:
“I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances!” (Ezek 36:25-27)

Many of us these days, due to the situation of the pandemic, are greatly missing the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Do I still nurture in my heart a deep fervour to receive Him in the Eucharist, and thus receive the Graces that are surely due, “to a soul who ardently longs for the Lover’s Real Presence!”
Do I regularly receive the Lord Sacramentally into my heart and radiate His Presence in all the activities of my life?

Let us give heed to the words of St Bernard of Clairvaux (Doctor of the Church and promoter of the Marian Devotion especially through the prayer, “Memorare”), who says:
“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge: that is curiosity

There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others: that is vanity
There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve: that is love!”

May we seek knowledge in order to respond to the demanding call of the Lord – and make ourselves worthy of Life Eternal, to the best of our possibilties and capabiltities.

“Many are invited and a few are chosen” (Mt 22:14)

Are we willing to respond to the invitation and follow the norms of Love, to be among the chosen ones?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

  • Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal MSFS

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Comets appear to be larger than stars and more fanfare is generally made of them.

Yet, they are not comparable to stars either in size or in quality and only seem more spectacular
because they are closer.

So, too, most people generally esteem the virtues which are, so to speak…
… closer, more tangible and more material.

Virtues such as gentleness, temperance, honesty and humility are the sort which should characterize all of our actions.”

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