Today’s gospel passage clearly makes a statement about our participation in the Kingdom of Heaven. We hear of two reactions to the invitation: “excuses” and “a lack of preparation.”
Jesus invites us to participate in the Reign of God, which we experience as a call to serve, to participate in the liturgy, to pray, etc. Sometimes, like the people in the gospel, we answer that we are busy with other things: “Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.” Our experience is close to this, but when we realize Who it is Who is calling us, then perhaps we may change our answer. It is God who invites us, and it is an invitation for each of us to share in His Heavenly Reign.
At times, we accept invitations, not so much because we want to go to an event, but because of the person who has invited us; we care about that person and we would not want to hurt or offend him or her. In other cases, because of the nature of the event and, even though we are busy, we go because we consider that in birthday, wedding, or even funeral celebrations, we should offer our support to others. There are no real excuses, but for the Lord, we have many and all of them can seem to be completely legitimate. The next time you are invited by your “inner voice” to serve, to pray or to worship in community, please consider whether you have true reasons – or excuses – for not showing up.
The second point made by the gospel parable relates to our preparation: “The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence”. Some times, like the person in the gospel, we think that our presence alone is sufficient. While it is better than being absent, it is not enough. We do not go to a 49ers, Giants or Warriors game just to sit there, without saying a word; we are ready to participate, to be “part of the action.” We can see fans sporting jerseys and teams colors. Should we not be “part of the action” in the same way in God’s Kingdom? Should we not be ready to serve, to pray, and to worship?
Although the preparation that is required of us requires no team jersey, we should be ready to be open to our Lord, to approach Him with the sincerity of a person who realizes that the Lord invites us to a banquet from which we receive all of the benefits. Indeed, this banquet is actually because of us, because we were lost and now are found, because we have been saved by the One who love us. Being prepared also means that we should know what it is that we celebrate, whom it is that we adore, and how we can be more present at His celebration. Preparation in our case means liturgical, catechetical, and theological knowledge, because more knowledge and more understanding leave us with less excuses and more love.