Thursday August 23, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Judges 11:29-39a) Gospel (St. Matthew 22:1-14)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord tells us there are many who are invited, but there are only few who are going to be elected. Think about what that means, even just in those who are baptized: Every single individual who is baptized has been set apart by God to be a saint. Then we can ask ourselves: "How many baptized individuals ever become saints? How many actually get to Heaven?" When we look at the way our own lives have sometimes been lived and we see the way that others are, we know that it is very easy to lose Heaven. We need to be so very careful because those who will be able to enter into the wedding feast of the Lord are going to be few. The Lord made that very clear. He told us that the way is rough and narrow; He told us to try to enter through the narrow door because it is not going to be easy. We have to live our faith. We have to take it seriously.
Think about the way the Lord has presented this. If we were living in a kingdom (a kingdom, at that time, would have been a rather small area) and the king had invited us to his wedding banquet, would we suggest that we had something else to do, or would we go to the banquet? We need to ask ourselves: "What would be more important?" It is not a question of what would be the more politically correct thing to do - our natural response would be: "Well, if it's the king I had better show up because that might make me look better in the king's eyes." That is not the issue. The question is what the priority is because the King of kings has invited us to the wedding banquet of His Son - and His Son is the banquet.
And more than just being an invited guest, each one of us has been called to be the bride. Our souls have been called to be united to Jesus Christ. When we look at it that way, we can ask ourselves: "Now what is more important?" Do we have our own business to attend to? Do we have lots of things that we want to do? Do we get caught up in our own cares and the cares of the world and say: 'I can't come.'? Therefore, we insult the servants and we kill them and we do not come to the wedding. Or do we say, "No, the King's banquet, to which I have been invited, and in which, in essence, I myself am the guest of honor - because my soul has been called to be the bride of Christ- is most important."?
Put into that context, imagine a bride deciding that there were things more important than her own wedding day. Usually, that would be very contrary to nature. But that is what we do. We basically tell God that we have more important things than Him, that we have other things to attend to; therefore, we put Him on the back burner. It is not that He is unimportant to us, it is just that He is not most important to us. God wants to be the top priority and if we put other things before God, we are telling Him that the banquet to which our souls have been invited is not quite top priority in our lives, that He is not the top priority in our lives. That is the point that is being made today.
How many people do not come to Mass on Sunday because it is just not a priority to them? Their Bridegroom is right there in the Eucharist and they are to receive the Groom, but they refuse to come to their own wedding banquet. How many of us, even coming to daily Mass, when we walk away from here basically forget about the Lord until tomorrow morning at this time. Then we say, "Oh, that is right, I have got to go to Mass." Then we walk away and we do not really think much about the Lord after this.
We need to keep the Bridegroom of our souls as the top priority so that when we do come here to Mass we will be able to receive our Bridegroom and unite ourselves to Him, intimately, in that spiritual union in Holy Communion. When we are putting Him as the top priority in our lives then that becomes the most wonderful moment of the entire day, and indeed of our entire life. That is what is being offered to us.
It is for us, then, to make the decision of what is most important; to make sure that our souls are clad in the proper wedding garments of God's grace; to make sure that our disposition is proper toward the Bridegroom of our souls; and to make sure that we recognize that the wedding and the very wedding banquet to which we are called - the banquet of the Lamb - is the first priority. It is for us to decide that the number one goal of our lives will be to have our souls and our entire being united to Jesus Christ.
Note: Father Altier does not write his homilies in advance, but relies solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.