What God offers

I LIKE how a fellow-priest in­terpreted the Parable of the Wed­ding Banquet of this Sunday’s Gospel. Initially, he didn’t find anything worst about the people who refused the king’s invitation to come to his son’s wedding banquet. In fact he found them to be good people: they took care of their families, worked hard to pay their bills, thought of other business or job opportunities, kept their homes in order, and fulfilled all other family obliga­tions. Like any busy people, they just didn’t have time to go to any party or banquet.

But the king was offering them something better to do that day. He wanted them to share in the joy of seeing his son get married. Any ordinary parent would feel the same way. So proud of and happy for his son and the bride, he wanted to invite these special people to witness the marriage, to be part of his family and friends, and to enjoy the rich banquet he prepared. Not content with the first invitation, he summoned them again to the wedding feast. To his big disappointment, they rejected the invitation again. What a sad case of indifference, ingratitude, lack of courtesy, and most of all, ignorance!

If the king in the parable is God, don’t we sometimes re­spond the same way to him? There are times when God invites us to do something different, bet­ter, and deeper; something more meaningful and fulfilling. But then, like the invited guests in the parable, we reject the invita­tion because of personal inclina­tions and wants. We make many excuses, put priority on other worldly matters, and yes, we’re just downright selfish and self-absorbed people.

The Gospel invites us then to examine our priorities and to sacrifice our own needs before God and the needs of others. At times, God invites to us to con­sider taking on other important tasks, especially those that are precious to him, or to respond to a different vocation. Our attitude should be openness and willing­ness to do His will.

Oftentimes, what God offers us is more than a job, money, or a position of authority. What he offers us is a relationship with him by which we can find peace, contentment, and healing. In the Parable of the Wedding Ban­quet, the king offered his invited guests a time to come to know his son. To interpret this, God is the king who offers his Son, Jesus, so that in knowing and receiving him in our lives, we are assured of happiness on earth and of be­ing part of the Eternal Banquet in heaven.

When God invites, let’s not act indifferently but positively, know­ing that what he offers is much better than anything else!

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Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas attended St. John Seminary in Camarillo, California and earned his Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. For twenty years, he has been in the parish ministry of large multi-cultural communities. Since 2002, he has been the pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Los Angeles.

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