Gospel Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
'Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast."'
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.'
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
The king said to him, 'My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?'
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'
Many are invited, but few are chosen."
+Prayer Breathe in me O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work too may be holy. Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me then O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen
"But he was reduced to silence", what does it mean to be "reduced to silence?" And why was he? This passage takes time to 'receive' in the heart, because there is a deeper message our Lord is speaking to us. Perhaps one aspect of this lesson, is "Receptivity' to the unmeasurable gift offered, His close, tender personal friendship in our lives. Do we receive and accept this unmeasureable gift of friendship and life in God. How is this concretely realized in my life? I love this mosaic. When I was stationed in Washington DC at the Aids Hospice as an MC, we would walk to the Immaculate Conception Shrine many days for Mass. I would walk into the Basilica and the mosaic would command my attention. Many of the sisters felt it too imposing, but I have to say it made me feel protected and loved and defended. I would stare at it and feel upheld. This mosaic reminds me of this passage because it seems to exude "Jesus the Truth" whom I will come before one day and give an account to, of all my life's doing. My cooperation or lack of cooperation with grace (God's gifts of unmeasurable value). One day we will all go before the Person of Truth and we will be 'reduced to silence' in the Presence of Love and Truth. In this great silence, we will be known as we truly are. Let us return to the original aspect we were pondering; Receptivity of the gift offered to us by God, of a lifelong, personal tender, intimate friendship. How am I living that is not in accord with the Truth? What must be changed in me, by the grace of God to better 'synchronize' my will with God's will?
As I was pondering this very question for this Lectio, Jesus confirmed me in a Grace he just given me recently. Several of us, just came back from Rome, from the Deaconate Ordination of Greg Parent one of our Diocesan Seminarians, whom I have known since he was a senior in High School and I love greatly, he is a wonderful man of God. His generous family made it possible for me to go. One day, as I was walking with one of the priests whom I traveled with, we were walking up the steps to the NAC (North American College in Rome) and he saw me breathing hard, huffing and puffing as I walked up the steps to the NAC. He said very kindly and gently and with love...that perhaps my body had to work so hard because of a little weight I gained recently and that I needed to take care of myself, because God wants it. It settled in my heart, what Father said and I knew it was Jesus initiating a conversation that was not finished and that needed to happen, because something deeper was there. I found myself "reduced to silence' after Father said that to me. Why? Because, he brought me into the presence of Jesus the Truth and I was 'reduced to silence' to ponder the gift being given, the grace being offered at that moment to change, to change my heart, to go deeper with Jesus to a place He wanted to go. When you think of the word 'reduced' it seems to me, that means to be made 'small' in a sense in comparison to what is before you, to be made small in comparison to WHO is before you. What must change so that I live well, open and receptive to God's gifts of grace, his gift of his lifelong, personal tender friendship. I remember my Dad telling me when I was young (he was a police officer) "people die very much as they lived." Many things can 'reduce us to silence', fear or being overwhelmed by Beauty. What is your choice?
Prayer: Oh Lord my God, my soul in stillness rests, truly my hope is in you. Amen