Had a nice experience today saying the two parish Masses along with an extra one in the town of Dungloe, home town of Daniel O’Donnell. The Mass attendance is an impressive indicator of the people’s faith.
Today’s gospel about the kingdom of God (Matt 22:1-14) speaks about an invitation to a wedding feast.
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town.
In basic terms this informs us that God wishes to have a friendship with us similar to the “communion [common-union] of life and love” that exists between husband and wife. In the Last Supper Jesus spoke about the New Covenant that he was establishing by his Passion and Death. Whereas a contract is an exchange of goods or services, a covenant is a mutual self-gift between the two parties. In terms of the New Covenant, God wants to make a gift of himself to us and invites us to make a reciprocal gift of ourselves to him. As is connoted by a ‘feast’ every desire of the human heart will be satisfied in this relationship as was expressed in the first reading. This happens in a special way when we celebrate fully Holy Mass.
A key point is that we have to RESPOND with a definite YES to this invitation. A non-response of indifference (like the people who were too caught up with the affairs of this world) is to be seen as a NEGATIVE as much as the violent rejection of those who maltreated and killed the King’s servants. This is a very important point to consider as in today’s world a spirit of presumption prevails: i.e. we just show up on the night and everything will be grand.
This point is borne out by a letter by an English priest Fr Andrew Pinsent which I came across recently in one of my archives. (For added value, Fr Pinsent has a doctorate in Particle Physics and is on the faculty at Oxford University.) It is titled ‘The Church is in decline because it has forgotten two basic truths.’
Garfield too believes there is no real reason or need to push himself!