Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Who is the man, described in today’s Gospel (Matthew 22: 1-14), who came to the feast of the king without a wedding garment? Why was he cast into the night? Wasn't it harsh indeed to treat him so cruelly? You may have asked yourself this question whenever you heard today's Gospel parable related.

It has been revealed that God wills that all should be saved. The Father does not wish that "anyone should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2Peter 3: 9). The Father is "rich in mercy," St. Paul said (Ephesians 2: 4). Jesus Christ is the Mercy of the Father that has become Incarnate.

Nevertheless, Saint Theresa of Avila tells us that love must be returned. This the reason that God gave man a free will. He wanted man to love Him freely. God does not allow us to stand in the middle. We either love Him by obeying His laws or we disobey Him and sin. In today Gospel, as He does often, Our Lord warns us that heaven can be lost.

When interpreting a parable, do not look for every piece to fit. Our Lord used figures of speech so that all could understand. The wedding banquet is the Kingdom of Heaven. The invited guests are the Israelites. In God's plan of salvation, He addressed Himself first to the Jews and then to all the Gentiles (Acts 13: 46). The wedding guests rejected the first invitation. They were numbered among the Israelites. A second invitation was extended and rejected. Then the door was opened to the Gentiles and many accepted.

"When the king came in to meet the guests, however, he caught sight of a man not properly dressed for a wedding feast." Some Church Fathers would identify this man as one who responded to the invitation to Baptism and becomes a member of the Church. Yet, he did not have the disposition that one must have to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He may be likened to some of today's Catholics who reject some of the Church’s teachings. I am a Catholic "but" I refuse to go along with the Church's teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. I am a Catholic "but" I believe a woman has a right to an abortion. I am a Catholic "but" what two people do together is his or her private business as long as no one gets hurt.

The man without the wedding garment then is not as far removed as we might expect. He or she may go to Mass every Sunday and even be members of the Parish Council. They may be Extra-Ordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, yet dissent from Church teachings on evils such as contraception. The person not properly dressed can be the Priest or sister who refuses obedience to the teachings of the Holy Father. He may be the popular theologian praised by many, yet he dissents from the teachings of the Magisterium. He may even be a member of the Church’s Hierarchy. He could be you or me if we refuse to repent.

The penalty? Our Lord is painfully clear! "The king then said to the attendants, `Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the night to wail and grind his teeth.' The invited are many, the elect are few."

Everyone has the ability to dissent from Church teachings. No one, however, will be able to escape the Day of Judgment. We affirm this inescapable reality every Sunday in the Creed. Regardless of the struggles of life and the weight of our crosses, we want to see God! We want to be with Our Lord and Our Lady for all eternity! May the Holy Mother of God grant us the grace to be "properly dressed" on the Day of the Lord! Amen!

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.


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