October 12, 2014
ORDINARY 28 (A)
Many are invited, but few are chosen. – Mt. 22: 14
One thing to remember is that the Kingdom of God is not a state or condition of this world, not even an ideal order of nations or life, but that it centers about a person – the King, God Himself. It is He who prepares the royal banquet. That He should do so and invite us is itself a great miracle, one we have heard about so much that we have lost our sense of wonder or amazement.
The Nineteenth century German philosopher Nietzsche once described human beings as “vermin on the crust of the earth.” Obviously, he was an extreme misanthrope; but it expresses the pitiful diminutiveness of so many humans who make pretentious high claims. How could God lavish anything so magnificent as His plan of salvation on such a dubious species?
Note that this is a real invitation, not an order. Yes, obedience will come and we will have to turn our lives around; but before giving us something, God simply asks us to come. It follows that the job of a disciple is to attract and invite and offer the Gospel (we can never speak too highly or too glowingly of it). Repentance and remorse will come soon enough, but joy can never come too soon. First we must taste and see how good the Lord is, then we can listen to what is required and to hear what it is that may bring us shipwreck!
However, a monstrous thing can happen: rejection. Too often, we do not see it as an invitation, but as an excessive demand. With our natural eyes we do not understand that what seems like a binding and burdensome allegiance is actually the greatest freedom of all. It is actually peace, the abundant life. Refusal comes when people do not know [and we Christians too often withhold] what is being offered. There is a profound mystery about the Kingdom of God: one can never take a passive attitude toward it. If we do not say “yes” we will end up opposing it. To say no to Christ using tolerance as an excuse is merely a passing calm. One day the storm will break loose again.
When the so-called “better” people reject the Kingdom, God turns to less reputable people. When the geniuses fail, God turns to the “nobodies!” God is too humble to be prejudiced. One can come as he is, even if he is a poor, sinful, unlovable person who cannot understand what God could possibly see in him or her. The fact is that God does not have to see anything because he can make something of us: His beloved children! Belonging to God requires of us only humility.
Unfortunately, humility does not come easily to most of us. It can be quite elusive for us ego-centric creatures. We mistakenly think that humility means thinking badly of ourselves. Actually, it means thinking nothing of ourselves – being realistic about ourselves, something we humans find difficult.
Similarly, repentance is not a painful renunciation of things that mean a lot to us, but a joyful homecoming to the place where certain things no longer have any importance. You see, we will never understand and catch the secret of the Christian life until we understand and catch its joy! It is not as if we stand alone. There is Another who stands at the door, waiting to meet and greet us! He is anxious to give us this secret if we would only allow Him. AMEN!