When my daughter Alexa was invited by her school, the Ateneo, for a testimonial dinner to celebrate her passing the Ateneo College Entrance Test with flying colors, everyone in the family felt so excited. A special invitation card came together with the details of an afternoon program highlighting the different colleges of the University for her possible interest, since by virtue of her being one of those who topped the examinations she was also allowed to choose courses other than her original Health Sciences option. This culminated with the testimonial dinner, entertained by no less than one of their famous musical groups performing live.
When someone invites us for a meal it means we must be special to them. In ancient times, agreements were sealed over meals. Usually the norm is, you invite people whom you have established some friendly relationships already or when you wish to establish friendly relationships.
The readings today show how our Creator loves His children as only a Father can. We are a people who have real human needs for friendship, joy, and companionship. People who have no one loving, them feel deep sadness which could lead to loneliness and depression. We all need to be accepted, included and loved. These needs are what the Lord wants for us as well.
As we grew up, our lives became more complicated and after getting the businesses and the jobs we desired, we started to accumulate material possessions in the hope of being able to provide a sense of security for ourselves and our families. Why is it then that despite these, many of us still feel stressed, anxious, afraid, or depressed? What is it that is literally making us sad? Do you remember when you were still younger, you were happier even if you had lesser possessions? If you notice, later in life when you started your career, you worked, worked, and worked to be “successful” and accumulate gadgets, clothing, and other material possessions. Eventually, the new becomes old, the enthusiasm is sapped of its energy — and so you still end up sad and miserable. New set of anxieties creep in as your family grow, and so you continue to pursue earning more, acquiring more, and eventually before you know it, your lifestyle becomes more expensive. This can raise up the level of stress, depression, and unhappiness if you aren’t aware of it. When this happens, your sadness can become frequent and normal. You become unhappy.
In the Gospel, the king invited many guests to the wedding feast but they refused to come, some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest even laid hold of his servants, mistreated and killed them. They failed in identifying what was important at that time. Similarly, this is how we miss on our life. We feel we need to work harder to provide for our families and so we just forget the more important matters in life. We miss living it, actually!
Our lifestyles require us to follow a strict schedule, so much so we hop from one activity to another without enjoying the moments of the more important matters. Among others, we fail to attend the graduation of our daughter, the championship game of our son, or even our spouse’s birthday.
Like the man in today’s Gospel who was not dressed in a wedding garment, without our realizing it, we come unprepared for the wedding feast; the important celebrations in our lives. It shows our lack of respect for God and other people, as we place them behind the “other” matters. What a miserable failure! What is sad is that once time is gone, it’s gone forever. You can’t get it back. How many of my friends just woke up one day and realized that all their children were already grown up and gone to their own families? As time is fleeting and indeed passes by quickly, so we have to enjoy the precious moments with family and friends.
The same thing can happen to our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. We are thus, being reminded to not lose sight of the things that matter the most.
Take it from St. Paul who said,
“I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4: 12-13)
“I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” (cf Ps. 23: 6)