REFLECTION ‘Many are invited but few are chosen’

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Reflection file photo by Bernard Testa/InterAksyon.

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”

Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
—Matthew 22:1-14

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus tackled what the kingdom is all about through a parable. In reality, God calls us and invites; the response may either be a yes or no. Each one is free to respond to the invitation or ignore it for lack of interest.

He likened faith to a wedding feast: the king invited people to attend the wedding of his son. The invitation was given to all guests but all of them ignored and refused to come.

For the second time, some of the servants sent by the king were mistreated and even killed; this made the king so angry. He dispatched his servants and instructed them to invite anyone they would meet on the roadside. There were those who responded so the feast was filled with guests. But the king saw a man not wearing a wedding garment and ordered that man to be taken out from the feast as he did not fit in the feast.

Among the characters in the parable, each one of us may identify with one of these personalities. We are always invited by God to join him in a feast. Symbolized by the feast hosted by the king, many were invited but few really showed up. The people were stubborn and have jaded hearts. They did not just ignore the invitation but also consciously refused to attend the feast. They relented and disobeyed the king.

Most of us are like these people who who ignored and relented the king’s invitation to be with him in celebrating life and love.

How many times did we receive the call to follow the will of God? In the Church, we are asked to live our lives in the Lord when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist? Why is it so hard to say “yes” to do the will of God? Why don’t we make ourselves available for others and celebrate God’s goodness and kindness instead? The feast has been readied for us but why do we close our hearts to the love of God?

in the parable, the king extended the invitation to all, to everybody. But like those in the gospel, many also attended the wedding feast but were not worthy of the feast. The parable may have been addressed to the chief priests and to the elders of the people during the time of Jesus, but it is also very timely for us today. We say yes to God but are not totally convinced about surrendering everything to Him. When we give our yes to the invitation of God, our answer must be firm and total.

Sometimes we refuse to listen to what we had already heard. God’s invitation to us has always been there for us. Everyday, God invites us to be with Him. He is asking us to know Him better through the Scriptures that we read and ponder, through the sacraments and teachings of the Church, and through the graces that we receive every moment of life.

The grace of God is received in the people we meet and in every circumstances of our life are occasions of the feast. For in the feast, the king and guests are there. In the kingdom, God and His people are there celebrating joyfully the feast.

On the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, a Doctor of the Church, let us continue to pray, reflect and ask ourselves:

Have I heard the invitation of the Lord for me?

Have I said “yes” to God’s invitation?

Am I faithful to the “yes” that I gave to God?

Am I committed to do the will of God?

Do I strive to be a worthy guest in the feast offered by the Lord?

Prayer
Almighty and Ever-living God, thank you for inviting us to your feast, may we be deserving of your kind attention and invitation to work in your vineyard. We pray for those who gave their lives in your name and for your sake. We thank you for the love you share with us and for calling us to yourself. We also ask you to obtain us the grace of holy perseverance and strength so that we can really serve you faithfully and lovingly in your house. This we ask through Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Intention
Let us pray for those whom we had promised to pray for, may the Lord listen to their prayers and grant their intentions. We also pray for those who are called to missionary life as priest, religious or lay that they may have open and responsive hearts in their response to the Lord’s invitation of loving service. We also remember those who are persecuted because of their faith.