“Many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)
Wow. Seriously? Jesus really has a way of lifting up those of us who are struggling to make it through the day, doesn’t He? At first glance, especially when taken out of context, this is one heck of a depressing message!
Believe me when I tell you that I had to fight off the desire to ignore today’s Gospel (Matthew 22:1-14, taken from daily Mass) and find a more uplifting “be not afraid” or “I am with you” Biblical message. Unfortunately for me, however, I didn’t think that’s what the Holy Spirit wanted me to do.
Given that I couldn’t weasel out of my assignment, I took a closer look and realized that the message contained in this Gospel passage (and so many others) is really a matter of perspective. In other words, seeing it as good or bad news depends on how you look at it. And, considering that the Gospel involves the words and actions of Jesus, how could any of it really be “bad news”?
Yes, the message is tough. Making it to Heaven is not automatic. Even though the victory has been won (through the death and resurrection of Jesus) and there is a place in Heaven reserved for all baptized Christians, it is possible to end up in hell. There, I said it. The good news, however, is that the gift of eternal life in Heaven is ours for the asking and the Lord provides all the grace we need to make it happen.
In this parable, there is a man who was invited to the banquet, but showed up unprepared (without being dressed in a wedding garment) and was tossed out. Who’s fault is that? The invitation was an unmerited gift and he didn’t even take the time to dress appropriately.
We don’t deserve the gift of Heaven, but Jesus freely gives it to us. All we have to do is request and cooperate with the grace that He provides. That is VERY good news. Try your best to focus on that today.
Let not your heart be troubled!