An interactive session between the moderator and the members of Bed Briefing House.
Topic: Getting our wedding Garments Set: Our response to God’s kingdom invitation.
Date: 11th October, 2020.
Venue: Bed Briefing WhatsApp House.
Moderator: Rev. Stanley Ijeoma.
Collator: Miss Adaobi Obiekezie.
A brief introduction: The readings we listened to today has a strong kingdom motif running across them The theme of the kingdom as we saw today is an invitation from God. This invitation demands a corresponding human response. As St Augustine rightly said, the God who created you without your help cannot save you without your help.I will adopt three senses to explain the concept of the kingdom. First the kingdom of God is a community Of believers. We recall the words of Christ in Matthew 18:20, where three or more are gathered, I am there in their midst. The kingdom of God is also seen in the Eucharistic Banquet. For when we eat the body and blood of Christ, we live in Christ and Christ lives in us. The kingdom is also seen in the joys and smiles we bring to other persons. When we do acts of charity, we clearly show the face of God which is a love that has no limits. We shall discuss further on these three points by raising some pertinent questions. Stay tuned.In the first reading, Isaiah presents us with the imagery of the mountain. The mountain is a place where we go up and God comes down. The mountain in question here is Mount Zion which is the place of right praise. Using the imagery of the table and well prepared meals, Isaiah takes us beyond the feeding of the flesh to the feeding of the soul. We all experience this Hunger for God and it is only God that can satisfy our deepest longings.In reading this text, I think of the Mass, where God comes to meet us, where we ascend by the lifting up of our hearts and minds to God. At the mass, Jesus gives us the gift of his body and blood(The best of the wine and food). This immortalizes us and prepares us for the life of heaven.The second reading dwells on the secret of self mastery. We should see every opportunity as coming from God. How we react when life’s situations throw themselves at us matters very much as Christians. Most times, we tend to get angry, complain and criticize when things don’t turn the way we want it. Paul teaches us that it is only when we have mastered ourselves and our emotions can we achieve self contentment This self mastery is achieved by immersing ourselves in Christ. We must follow Christ and his teachings. There are no short cuts.The banquet of heaven is a celebration of lasting joy and victory. In the Gospel, in which Our Lord tells the parable of the Wedding Feast of the King’s Son, the first thing we notice is the abundance of excellent food, the steaks and roasts long in the planning, plus the readiness of the host to welcome his guests. Then we note the fate of those who humiliated the king by publicly dishonouring the invitation, even to the extent of maltreating and murdering the king’s servants who went out to encourage them to attend. Finally, we observe how someone brought in from the highways and byways was punished and thrown out for not being appropriately dressed for the banquet.Now, to understand this parable a bit better, we need to be aware that it is set in the context of a Jewish custom. In those days, whenever the invitations to a banquet or a big feast were sent out, the actual date and time of the feast were not set until all the preparations (based on the number of acceptances) had come together. When everything was finally ready, servants went out to let the guests know that it was time to come. So, the parable assumes that the king had already sent out invitations, but that it was not until everything was ready that the summons had been issued. In the parable, the human king represents God the Father, and the invited guests who deliberately dishonoured the king’s invitation represent the Jewish people.The initially-invited guests turned deaf ears to the invitation and instead deliberately involved themselves in long-term projects. They demonstrated that they never really intended to go to the feast; one went off to look after his farm, another concentrated on his business, while the rest seized, tortured and killed the servants. You know from personal experience how easy it can be for us to be so busy with the things of day-to-day living in chronological time that we forget the things of eternity, to be so occupied with the things which we can see that we forget the reality of things which we cannot see, to hear so easily the noise and babble of the world that we cannot hear the gentle voice of God. We can be so preoccupied with making a living that we forget to make a life in God. And when forgetfulness of these crucial things becomes habitual, the consequence is the creation of a chasm between us and God.Let’s now consider the person who entered the feast without the proper attire. Jesus said: And the king noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment. When we want to go out on a visit, we pay attention to the dress code; don’t we? We apply appropriate dress codes according to the occasion, whether for shopping, working in the garden, going out for entertainment or for going to church. People don’t (normally) change the oil in a car in their best clothes, nor turn up for a dinner-dance in their tatty old gardening clothes. It is true that the door to the feast of the Holy Eucharist is open to everyone, of course; but when people accept the invitation and do come in, they need to bring with them a life which seeks to fit the supranatural love which has been shown to them. The door remains open to all sinners, of course, but not to sinners who deliberately continue in sin when they enter; rather, it is for the sinners to aspire to become saints and to change their lives (their wedding garments) accordingly. The grace of invitation brings with it serious responsibility.Having seen a summary of the readings and bearing in mind the topic of the day, I would like us to discuss briefly how Christians of today give excuses when God extends his invitation to us.- I don’t want to loose this suitor.- I really need to pass this exam by all means.- The spirit is strong but the flesh is weak.- This is the fashion in vogue, I cannot be outdated.- It’s because of my children.- My work demands a lot.- I can’t loose my appointment, after all; I will go for confession.- I have many customers to attend to, I can’t afford to loose this contract.- I have a date.- I haven’t read my book and my exams is forthcoming, besides God understands and heaven helps those who helps themselves.The Practice of wrong participation has gradually crept into the church. This is seen where we do things in the Church without having the right intention.For instance, people go to church for the sake of gossip or just for another social event. People give alms and huge donation just to show off.These are certainly not the correct wedding garments expected of us. What ways do you think these can be reduced in the Church today?- By changing our mindset:You don’t serve God according to your standard but God’s standard.You shouldn’t serve God only when you are free, rather you should be ready to serve God always.In addition to the above suggestion, the priest has to apply Catechesis too to orient their mindset on what the Church and it’s liturgy is all about. It’s a gradual process that demands patience and vigilance.- We have to be conscious that we have passed through initiation and so we can do all things with the help of the one who gives us strength.Self mastery as pointed out from the second reading could be very difficult to attain though not impossible. Let’s picture a practical scenario. Since it’s true that every opportunity comes from God, how best can a Christian react when faced with life challenging issues like unemployment and severe economic hardship? How exactly can he practice contentment in the face of stark poverty?- By accepting his fate, what he can’t change, with joyand work rightfully to change the situation he can. Taking it as a cross he has to carry to the glory of God.- By accepting it whole heartedly as the will of God even though it is not easy and working hard to change the situation with prayers and strong and lively faith. Because sometimes God can test us in that term.General Question:1. But The King actually invited everyone…..the good and bad .Why did he have to send someone away because of wedding garment.What if the guy in question has none?- To answer this, we paint an imaginary picture of that event.Why was he the only one without a wedding garment?I guess none of them had wedding garment initial, since they never had in mind to attend any wedding.Would I be wrong to say, that they all had opportunity to change to a wedding garment before entering the wedding hall, but he considered changing to wedding garment not necessary? We are all invited and encouraged to receive the Eucharist during mass, but that does not mean you should receive it in the state of mortal sin. By confession, the opportunity to change to the right wedding garment has been provided. We don’t have holiness, but Christ has made provision for us to get it.IN CONCLUSION: Just like the author of the letter to the Hebrews said, we must run with confidence the race that is set before us looking to Jesus the author of our Faith.The kingdom of God is real. Heaven is real… While we still have the time, may we strive manfully, cooperating with the Graces God has given us in order to attain heaven.Do not despair because of some failures on the way, when we fall, get up to the confessional and rise again. We cannot afford to take chances. God who sees the inmost hearts will surely reward our Heavenly Race by preparing for us sumptuous meals with Rich wine on his mountain Amen.Remain blessed!!!!!