Twenty-eight Sunday: Grace comes before inclusion; a spiritual law as sure as any physical law.

Here in Matthew 22:1-14 God is a king who gives a feast for his son’s wedding. Think about Jesus’ use of a feast to describe the kingdom of God.

His son’s wedding is every effort made by God to rule the human heart but particularly the incarnation, the birth of Jesus Christ. When God rules the human heart the heart experiences it as a feast.

The king sends his servants to call those invited to the wedding feast (the feast being the rule of God over the human heart). The servants are the men and women we read about in the Old Testament, through to Jesus himself, the apostles, the New Testament, up to every person – you and I, priest, parent, teacher – anybody who invites others to God right up to this October day 2014.

Who is invited? The Jews were first but in refusing the invitation some who were first became last (it could happen to you!) but those who did accept entered the wedding feast. Then pagans skipped the queue and entered the feast, the last becoming first. In our day the invitation has been obscured, people no longer experience Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, indeed Catholicism generally, as an invitation to a feast. But that’s what it is, an invitation to a wedding feast, the marriage of God and man in an individual soul and in a people, the Church; sealed in the Eucharist. Our religion should be experienced as a feast (or at least in terms of a feast) – that so many do not experience religion as a feast is nothing new. It’s the reason Jesus told parables like this!

Every Catholic who no longer practices is to some degree unwittingly refusing an invitation to the feast. But there are nuances around the invitation; some accept the invitation but in reality it’s only an outward show. They practice religion outwardly but there’s nothing inside, no joy, no feast!

It’s most interesting to note the excuses given by those invited; they’re not interested. So simple isn’t it? One has a farm, another has a business; these are important things but still keep people from the feast. Others attempt to get rid of those issuing the invitations; the Church has no place in modern society, squeeze it out! It’s so 2014 isn’t it? Yet it’s a teaching that’s 2,000 years old. It’s still valid because it’s unveiling spiritual truths.

So like the vineyard owner in last week’s Gospel the king then turns to others – his own are refusing! He instructs his servants to go out “to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding” and the wedding hall is full, but when the king notices one man who was not wearing a wedding garment he kicks him out! Not very inclusive, is it?

Here we’re encountering more spiritual truths, basic laws of the spiritual world that simply do not change; no more than physical laws change. If I reduce my food intake and walk 10 kilometres daily, what’ll happen? It’s a basic physical law. The spiritual world has similar laws. One of them is that entry into the kingdom of God produces a ‘new’ man, sin is recognized, often for the first time, and there arises from within a hunger and a thirst to change, a hunger and a thirst that must be satisfied. Grace comes before inclusion! This is a law as sure as any physical law.

It’s impossible to enter the kingdom of God (or more truthfully, the kingdom of God to overtake us) without this process happening to some degree. This process is the wedding garment. The marriage produces a union. Men and women become like God, holy, as God is holy.

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