At Holy Mass on Sunday we will hear a parable from the gospel, about a king giving a wedding feast for his son. The marriage in question involves the Lord Jesus Christ and all our souls, each individual soul. [Spanish]
God made me, and He exercises ultimate control over the entire course of my life. Every day—every moment—involves an invitation. The loving, almighty hand of God lavishly arrays everything that I experience. All for one reason: to communicate love. To give life. To open up the infinite horizon of friendship with Him.
When did Jesus weep? He wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus. But that wasn’t the only time. Once, as He approached Jerusalem as a pilgrim, He paused on the hill overlooking the Kidron Valley and the Temple Mount beyond, and He wept. “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone those whom the Lord sends to you. How many times have I longed to gather your children together, like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
God demands my attention, more urgently than anything else. Who has more of a claim on me than He does? My Creator has a right to expect my devoted love.
But… He’s invisible. And so confoundedly silent. He seems aloof. Intentionally mysterious. Is He really, you know—there?
Let’s not forget about the banquet in the parable, the “calves and fattened cattle” that the king prepared for his guests. We do not seek friendship with God in an arid wasteland. We don’t have to invent our own religion, based on our own clever insights. We seek friendship with God at a fully stocked banquet table that He has prepared.
He became man. He gave Himself for us on the cross, and then rose again to minister in heaven as our High Priest. He founded a Church and endowed Her with holy writings and sacraments. He has given us a religion, which allows our friendship with Him to grow through the whole course of our humble lives on earth.
God prepared this banquet of grace, this great, undefinable “thing” that is Christianity, Catholicism. He made it; I didn’t. It’s not for me to understand it all, just like it’s not for wedding guests to know all the recipes for every item on all the banquet tables. My job—our job—is to partake. If I make my own understanding of God the measure of my friendship with Him, forget it. After all, the closer we get to God, the more we realize how little we understand.
What I do or don’t do, what I understand or don’t understand—none of that makes or breaks my religion. Most of us hardly know what we are doing most of the time, anyway. What really matters is that God has intervened in history. He founded a Church.
Now, to be sure, our Church clearly has some serious problems. Also, no one has an obligation to go to Mass right now, because of the virus. But my point is this: the Catholic Church’s fundamental institutions deserve my trust and devotion, because they are the means by which I receive God’s grace. When I trust in the mystery of divine love revealed by Christ, I can partake of the banquet of heaven at the altar. I just need to take my place among all the sinners who need that grace.
The king of the parable really just wants everyone to be happy, but he is utterly demanding in one way. He invites us to the wedding banquet of His only Son, and we must accept. If we fail to accept the invitation, we lose our one chance at finding meaning in life. We accept the invitation by believing—believing in Christ and in the sacraments He instituted, and frequenting the sacraments at the right time, and under the right circumstances, of course, considering the public-health situation we face.
No matter what our particular individual circumstances right now, having to do with the virus, or being suspended from ministry, or whatever might get in the way–the main thing is faith. And hope: looking forward to better days, when we can live the life of the Church together, in peace.
Those days will come. In the meantime, we share in the banquet by believing, hoping, praying, and receiving the sacraments insofar as that is possible.
PS. Happy Feast of Saint Dennis 🙂