Spiritual readings for Sunday 15th October
09 October 2017 CGI news
Week of 9th October (reference: readings of Sunday 15th October)
28th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Reading: Phil 4,12-14.19-20; Mt 22,1-14
"I can do all things in him who strengthens me."
"Many are called but few are chosen"
What a hard phrase which puts an end to the Gospel of this week! This famous parable of the wedding banquet (only recorded by Matthew) speaks of the King’s punishment for those who did not attend the party, or were not dressed properly and did not answered his call.
It is necessary to understand the context Jesus was coming from when he told this parable to the priests, scribes, Pharisees and elders of the town. It was his last week of life on earth in Jerusalem, a time of conflict against the religious leaders. Jesus was speaking against Satan, who was opposed to his Father’s plan and tempted Jesus to kill him.
Before thinking on the part of the "chosen ones", let us think about the first part: the "called ones". Jesus gives all possible opportunities for us to respond to His call, to our vocation. First, he invites in a direct way, but the guests decide not to take part; then, he sends harsh signals (destruction of the city, death of murderers), but even so, the guests do not become aware. From here, it calls on all the marginalized, without election criterion and without being the "chosen ones". Many go to the banquet. Finally, He chooses one of the guests (who was not dressed or prepared properly for the feast) and interrogates him personally. He notices that the king called this guest "friend", with great affection. Nonetheless, the man said nothing; he was concerned about eating and drinking at the party.
It is clear that who decides to be "chosen" is ourselves, because we are all called. Sometimes we are called in public, in the churches, in the Vincentian Family. Other times, we are called by events and disasters that affect many people. Finally, throughout our life, God calls us individually, by our name, sometimes with affection, sometimes with difficult events, even with suffering. It is up to us to decide if we want to be the "chosen one"!
I cannot fail to reflect on the beautiful Letter to the Philippians of this week, in which Paul says his famous phrase: "I can do all things with Him who strengthens me". Paul is an example of mental, spiritual and physical strength. He was an intellectual, well prepared to be a Jewish leader and left this leadership to devote his wisdom to Christ. He went through many spiritual tests, starting with the way to Damascus and he always "kept his faith". He went through many physical ordeals: hunger, storms, prison. His strength came precisely from the hardships of life, because he perceived in them the sign of Christ, which always strengthened him, which always renewed him, which always prepared him to continue the mission.
However, Paul’s strength came also from another source: he was prepared to live with abundance or famine, both among the powerful, and among the marginalized. He had the wisdom that comes from God!
What a coincidence (or "theo-incidence") between today’s readings and our Vincentian life! First, God calls us in different ways, in public or in private, through His presence in the Poor. Later, he invites us to make sacrifices (often mentally, spiritually and physically) for Him, in the service to the poor and to the brother in Vincentian vocation. Later, he gives us the grace to access wisdom, both living with the powerful (in order to convert them), and with the poorest. Finally, because of all this, He strengthens us!
Paul says that this strength is confirmed because his God "will provide magnificently with his wealth for our needs, in Christ Jesus". It is not only Paul’s God; it is not only Paul’s Jesus Christ: it is our God; it is our Christ, who invites us and strengthens us. How fruitful is the Vincentian vocation, like our response to God so that we will always be "dressed for the banquet" and, as a result, be "chosen"! It is from this vocation that comes the strength to live deeply God's plan for our life.