HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-EIGHT SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A
THEME: PLEASE OPEN YOUR HEART AND DINE WITH JESUS!
By: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
(IS.25:6-10; PHIL 4:12-14,19-10: MT. 22:1-10)
In preparation for my first holy communion in1987, among other things, we were taught some songs and two of those songs stand out in my life till today. The first is “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart, open your heart and let Jesus come in”. The second as if a response is “Like a sunflower which follows every movement of the sun, so I come towards you to follow you my God”. These two songs form the fulcrum of this Sunday readings. The invitation to the heavenly banquet and our response.
The discussion of salvation has been largely rendered redundant in modern times because of the belief that everyone would be saved. The hope that all will be saved is never a doctrine, nor a statement of fact. That is why we Christians use the epitaph, R.I.P on our obituaries. It is often mistakenly translated into English as “Rest in Peace,” whereas the actual abbreviation stands for “Requiescat in Pace,” (May He/She rest in peace). The former is a statement of fact, whereas the second is an invocation of hope. We can only pray and hope, but we do not know if that will be the case. That is also why millions of Catholics pray the rosary every day, adding at the end of each decade, the Fatima Prayer, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy.”
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While Christ’s redemptive suffering makes salvation available to all, it is crucial to understand that our salvation is contingent upon us making the correct response to God’s invitation. The parable of the Wedding Banquet is the perfect illustration of this point. The Prophet Isaiah in his eschatological discuss, helps us to understand that this is the Feast of Judgment.
It is important to notice that the people who refused the wedding invitation did so, not from evil motives, but from reasonable ones. But this is precisely what makes them so dangerous. The greatest danger facing us is not that we might abandon God and turn to evil, but rather that we might ignore his invitation. We prefer to devote all our energies to good goals of our own choosing, thus ignoring God’s invitation to something infinitely deeper and better.
To ignore God’s invitation altogether is the worst form of refusal, it is simply indifference. Indifferent people are the hardest to convert. To benefit from the feast, one must wear the wedding garment of conversion. The clothes represent our life since accepting the invitation and the gift of grace. Your clothes and your life are washed white at baptism, kept clean by the life you lead and the sacraments, particularly reconciliation and the Eucharist.
Life is very much a preparation for death, yet how many of us get so caught up in this life, that we forget? The curse of a blessed life is that it is easy to enjoy life and forget that it is passing, that it is meant to be the means to reach an even greater end. We should be driven to spend every moment preparing our wedding garment, adorning it with our acts of sacrifice and love, that we may be welcomed into that timeless joy.
The parable also provides us with a warning too. Make no mistake: Hell is real, and we should treat it with the utmost seriousness. Just like the invited guests who spurned the king’s invitation, some may never make their way to the heavenly banquet because they had unknowingly chosen hell. This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end… the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want ‘any to perish, but all to come to repentance’” (1037).
My brothers and sisters, it is certainly the gospel truth that Christ died not just for a few but for all. But it is not true, that we can presume that such salvation is guaranteed without any effort on our part. God bestows the grace of salvation and offers it to all of us, but we must be willing to give ourselves entirely to Him without hesitation.
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