Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (José Antonio Pagola)

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Jesus knew very well how the rural folks of Galilee enjoyed themselves at the weddings that were celebrated in the villages.  Without a doubt, he himself took part in more than one.  What experience could have been more joyful for those people than to be invited to a wedding and to be able to sit down with their neighbors to share a wedding feast together?

This remembrance from Jesus’ childhood helped him at some point to communicate his experience of God in a new and surprising way.  According to Jesus, God is preparing a final banquet for all of his children, for he wants to see everyone seated at his side, enjoying forever a life of perfect happiness.

We can say that Jesus understood his whole life as a great invitation to a final party in God’s name.  That is why Jesus does not impose anything by force, he does not pressure anyone.  He announces God’s Good News, he awakens confidence in the Father, he lights up hope in their hearts.  His invitation should reach everyone.

What has happened to this invitation from God?  Who announces it?  Who is listening to it?  Where in the Church is this final party talked about?  Satisfied with our own well-being, deaf to whatever may not immediately concern us, we seem not to need God any longer.  Will we little by little get used to living without the need to nourish our last hope?

Jesus is realistic.  He knows that God’s invitation can be rejected.  In the parable of “those invited to the wedding feast” he speaks of the different reactions of those who are invited.  Some reject the invitation knowingly and resoundingly—“they do not want to go.”  Others respond with complete indifference—they pay no attention.”  More important to them are their fields and businesses.

But according to the parable, God does not get discouraged.  Regardless, there will be a final party.  God’s desire is that the banquet hall will be filled with guests.  That is why there is need to go to the “main roads,” where so many people walk aimlessly, living without hope and without a future.  The Church has to keep announcing with faith and joy God’s invitation that is proclaimed in Jesus’ Gospel.

Pope Francis is concerned about preaching that is obsessed “with the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be insistently imposed.”  The greater danger, according to him, is that now “it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options.  The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have ‘the fragrance of the Gospel’.”

José Antonio Pagola

October 12, 2014
28 Ordinary Time (A)
Matthew 22, 1-14

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