JOYOUS FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            A family invited me once to dine in a five-star hotel. But since I had a prior appointment/engagement – to give a recollection talk to some seminarians – I had to politely turn down the invitation. Humirit pa ‘yung madre de familia sa akin at nagbiro – sabi niya: “Father, dalawang ulam lang ang ipapakain sa ‘yo sa seminaryo, eh, sa pupuntahan natin buffet – major-major feast, bonggang-bonggang kainan at inuman.” All I could say was, “Sayang! Sana may next time pa.”

            God the Father has prepared a wedding feast for his Son, and we are all invited to this feast. That is the poetic summary of salvation that can be found in the gospel parable that Jesus tells us today. The “wedding feast” is an apt metaphor of the kind of life we will have with God in his Kingdom. It connotes union, intimacy and fellowship with God. The “wedding feast” is also symbolic of a community coming together, of joyful celebration, of abundance and lavishness.

            God is inviting us, in so many ways, to the wedding feast. He is inviting us to come, to sit down at his table,   to eat and drink with the Father and the Son. He is inviting us to intimacy and fellowship with him.

            However, as the gospel tells us, many reject the invitation – or, at least, refuse to come to the wedding feast. We refuse to come because we are too preoccupied with so many things that we have not seriously thought about God’s invitation. We refuse to come because we have other priorities that we are not seeking first the kingdom of God. We refuse to come to the “feast of the Lord” because the various “parties of the world” are more appealing, exciting and entertaining.

            Flannery O’Connor, an American writer, gave this famous line: “My stories are almost always about the offer of grace usually refused.” That is the point: God is offering his grace but we often refuse. Implicitly or explicitly, directly or indirectly, wittingly or unwittingly, we refuse God’s grace, somehow preferring to deal with others that can give us “more blessings” or “better stuff.” Madalas nakatuon tayo sa ibang tao o ibang bagay na inaakala nating makapagbibigay sa atin ng ‘grasya’ na mas gusto natin. How often do we refuse God’s invitation to a joyous fellowship with him?

            Let us be honest and admit that the things that make us ignore the invitation of the Lord are not always bad in themselves – like: working hard to provide for our family and secure their future; striving hard to progress in our profession and get ahead of others; trying hard to get better and be the best in something we love doing; spending time for relaxation, recreation and even elaborate vacations; getting involved in social groups, civic activities and other affairs.

            Actually, these things are good in themselves. But the question is: Are they good enough to be our reason for refusing the Lord’s invitation to his banquet? William Barclay says that it is very easy for us to be so busy with the things of time that we forget the things of eternity. We can be so busy making a living that we fail to make a life. We can be so busy with the management, administration and the organization of life that we forget life itself. (William Barclay)

            The Lord is inviting us to the feast he has prepared for us: to feed our hungry being and satisfy our thirsty soul…to refresh our tired body and to restore our broken spirit…to fill our empty heart with his peace and grace…to give us purpose, meaning and fulfillment…and to let us experience gladness and joy. The Lord continues to persistently invite us to his banquet so that we may experience the fullness of life…so that his joy may become ours and that our joy may be complete.

            Our first priority must be God. If we are so busy to heed God’s voice, then we are TOO BUSY. If we are so busy to give God homage and give him thanks, then we are TOO BUSY. If we are so busy to perform some service in God’s kingdom, then we are TOO BUSY. Our being TOO BUSY will bring disaster to us, sooner or later. We must not forget that there will come a time when our relationship and fellowship with God will be the only priority that will matter.

            In A Journey with the Saints, Thomas S. Kepler writes: “The secret of the revolution in the lives of the saints lies in the fact that their lives are centered in God.” “They never seem hurried, they have a large leisure, they trouble little about their influence.” “They refer the smallest things to God. They live in God.”

            That is the great secret to successful living: the realization that when one reserves time to come to God’s banquet, all of the rest of life will fall in place.  

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