Regnum Christi | Legionaries of Christ

Weekly Digest of the Regnum Christi Daily Meditations: October 4-11, 2020

Sunday, October 4, 2020 – The Darkness of Selfishness

Monday, October 5, 2020 – Jesus Breaks the Habit of Putting Limits on Our Love

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 – Prayer Is the Lifeblood of My Relationship with Jesus

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 – Prayer Has an Important Place in Our Continuing Conversion

Thursday, October 8, 2020 – The Christian Who Doesn’t Pray Treats God like a Servant

Friday, October 9, 2020 – Keeping House

Saturday, October 10, 2020 – Mary Is My Master Educator in Virtue

Sunday, October 11, 2020 – The Banquet is Prepared!

 


October 4, 2020 – Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Darkness of Selfishness

 

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father James Swanson, LC

Matthew 21:33-43

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes’? Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the master of the universe, and yet you wish to listen to me and guide me. You know all things past, present and future, and yet you respect my freedom to choose you. Holy Trinity, you are completely happy and fulfilled on your own, and yet you have generously brought us into existence. You are our fulfillment. Thank you for the gift of yourself. I offer the littleness of myself in return, knowing you are pleased with what I have to give.

Petition: Lord, grant me a deeper humility that seeks you and not myself in all that I do.

  1. The Stone Rejected: Just a few days before, a great crowd had acclaimed Jesus as the Messiah as he triumphantly entered Jerusalem. However, the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees and Herodians see Jesus as a threat to their own position of leadership. Though they have not yet let it be known to the people, they have decided to reject Jesus and are already plotting together to kill him. In the meantime, they are pretending to be making a “thorough investigation”, to find the “truth” about what the crowds have acclaimed – that Jesus is the Messiah. What they are really doing is trying to ruin him, to catch him in some mistake, so as to denounce him as a fraud before the crowds. They seek to break the people’s support for him. They practice the kind of toxic politics we are so familiar with today: instead of seeking the common good or the truth, they only seek themselves and their own glory.
  2. The Cornerstone: Jesus sees what his detractors are trying to do. He tells them a series of parables, hinting that if they continue to oppose him, they will lose. In the parable of the vineyard he tells them that they can kill him; but even so they will still lose. Then he quotes Psalm 118, comparing himself with the rejected stone that becomes the cornerstone. What Jesus is hinting at goes beyond just the quoted verses. The whole psalm – which Jesus’ enemies would have known from memory – tells of Yahweh fighting for his faithful one. The faithful one will not be abandoned to death, and the enemies of Yahweh will be defeated. It is as if Jesus throws down a challenge: “You cannot beat me. Even if you kill me as you are planning to do, my Heavenly Father will not abandon me to death. He will fight for me and I will become the cornerstone. You would do better to join me.”
  3. Jesus Is True Progress: Jesus won. He continues to win today. His enemies still insist on smashing themselves to bits. When we survey history, we see what becomes of one group after another that oppose Jesus and his Church. They disappear into oblivion. Jesus is the future of the whole world. He won. He continues to win and will win in the end. Since Jesus is the future of the whole world, progress can only mean progress toward him, toward the civilization of justice and love he wishes to establish. Those who seek their own special interests are seeking a return to the past, to the Dark Age before Jesus. They seek to return to when humanity tried not just to know what was good and evil (eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), but to DECIDE it – to be gods themselves.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to be humble. Help me to accept you as Messiah and Savior – and as my future. So many times, instead of seeking you, I seek myself. I try to influence everything so that what is good and true is defined according to my will rather than yours. Please be patient with me and help me to change.

Resolution: In what area of my life is it hardest for me to accept the way God has organized things? Where do I most want to set up a system opposed to God’s plan in order to get my way? My resolution today has to be one that helps tear down this “structure of sin” in my life.


October 5, 2020 – Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus Breaks the Habit of Putting Limits on Our Love

 

Father James Swanson, LC

Luke 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the master of the universe, and yet you wish to listen to me and guide me. You know all things past, present and future, and yet you respect my freedom to choose you. Holy Trinity, you are completely happy and fulfilled on your own, and yet you have generously brought us into existence. You are our fulfillment. Thank you for the gift of yourself. I offer the littleness of myself in return, knowing you are pleased with what I have to give.

Petition: Lord, help me to be like the Good Samaritan.

  1. Love Our Neighbor Above Ourselves: The people listening to Jesus would all admit that they should love God above all things. Maybe many didn’t practice it well, but they at least pretended to love him outwardly by living his commandments. Love of neighbor was another matter. The Jewish Law of the Talion put a limit on vengeful action: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But Jesus wants to take things to a whole new level – the level of brotherly love. He wants us to live a love for others inspired by the love he showed for us on the cross. We were his enemies, addicted to sin. He owed us nothing, yet he died for our sake. In times past, it was common to abuse the poor and the handicapped as people cursed by God on account of some sin. Now, Jesus proposes to love all, regardless of their condition. Do I strive to love this way?
  2. It’s Not Enough to Love Those Close to Me: Probably most of us, like those listening to Jesus, accept that we need to love and serve God, and obey the commandments. But when it comes to loving others, we fail. Sometimes it seems that I have a difficult time loving even those who are closest to me. Those I see on a daily basis are often the ones that have to bear the worst in me. They suffer the most from my impatience, anger and lack of self-control. Why does this happen? Is it because the love I have for my family and closest friends is a selfish love? Is it because I am looking for what they can do for me instead of what I could be doing for them? Love’s response should always be that I haven’t done enough, that I can never do enough – because real love has no limits.
  3. Love Your Enemies: Jesus also asks us to love our enemies. In the parable, the victim receives help from someone he, as a Jew, would have considered to be inferior and an enemy – a Samaritan. Although their lands were adjoining, historical circumstances caused them to carry grudges against each other and avoid each other as much as possible. Yet it is a Samaritan whom Jesus makes the hero of the parable. In seeing the man’s distress, and stopping to help and care for him, Jesus makes him the image of himself. St. Augustine says that the Samaritan represents Jesus and the victim represents humanity. When we couldn’t help ourselves, when we were estranged from God’s friendship because of our sins, God in his love stopped to help us. This is the love Jesus wants us to practice – the same love he practiced on the cross. “Go and do likewise,” he tells us.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I am sorry for accepting your love for me on the cross while failing to love others in the same way. Don’t let me get discouraged by my little daily setbacks as I try to love more, but encourage me to be more like you, to be a Good Samaritan to all I meet.

Resolution: I will remove the limits I have placed on loving someone close to me – my spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters, close friends, co-workers – and be patient and understanding at moments when I don’t feel like loving.


October 6, 2020  – Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Prayer Is the Lifeblood of My Relationship with Jesus

 

Father James Swanson, LC

Luke 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary, who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the master of the universe, and yet you wish to listen to me and guide me. You know all things past, present and future, and yet you respect my freedom to choose you. Holy Trinity, you are completely happy and fulfilled on you own, and yet you have generously brought us into existence. You are our fulfillment. Thank you for the gift of yourself. I offer the littleness of myself in return, knowing you are pleased with what I have to give.

Petition: Lord, help me to learn how to pray better.

  1. “More Things Are Wrought By Prayer Than This World Dreams of”: Many good people see prayer as a weak thing that really doesn’t help. So they put their effort into doing great projects, into doing as much as they can to bring about good in the world. This is a good thing. But prayer is essential. Even if I manage to involve thousands of others in my project, I will still not accomplish as much as when I get God involved. Getting God involved through prayer is the first and the most important thing to do if we are going to accomplish anything. As King Arthur says to Sir Bedivere in Tennyson’s Morte d’Arthur, “More things are wrought by prayer / Than this world dreams of.”
  2. Persevere in Prayer with Love: Many critics of prayer complain that they pray a lot, but it doesn’t seem to do any good. Well, there are a couple of things to say about that. First of all, there needs to be love for God in my heart. God needs to be someone familiar to me, a friend. In asking for a favor, I expect to get a greater response from someone I know, someone who is close to me, than from a stranger. Imagine if there was someone I barely knew, and the only time I saw him was when he needed a favor from me. Would I be inclined to give him what he needs? Second, I need to persevere. Like the Canaanite woman who asked Jesus to cure her daughter, I have to persevere in prayer when things are difficult. Her perseverance increased her faith, and in the end, it got her what she wanted. If I persevere in prayer with love, I will get all that I need.
  3. Cooperate with God’s Plan Instead of Insisting on Your Own: I need to remember that every prayer has its effect. How often am I disappointed when I don’t get what I’m asking for? Am I open enough in my prayer to let God work as he wants; to follow his plan and not mine? Do I force him to refuse my request by making it so narrow that there is no way to incorporate it into his plan? Even if I don’t see the results of my prayer, that doesn’t mean God is not listening. God always rises to the occasion and will often do something a lot better than what I wanted him to do. He does what is best for me, even if it does not entirely conform to my plan. I may never know or realize – in this life – the specifics of how God listened to my prayers. It takes faith to accept this.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, whatever project I undertake, help me to remember to start it with prayer, pray while I am doing it, and finish it with prayer. I want to be close to you like Mary. I want to serve you like Martha. Help me to find the right order and balance in my life.

Resolution: When I consider the biggest thing I am doing for God today, I will be sure to ask him in prayer to bless it.


October 7, 2020  – Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

Prayer Has an Important Place in Our Continuing Conversion

 

Father James Swanson, LC

Luke 11:1-4

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the master of the universe, and yet you wish to listen to me and guide me. You know all things past, present and future, and yet you respect my freedom to choose you. Holy Trinity, you are completely happy and fulfilled on your own, and yet you have generously brought us into existence. You are our fulfillment. Thank you for the gift of yourself. I offer the littleness of myself in return, knowing you are pleased with what I have to give.

Petition: Lord, teach me through the “Our Father” to pray more deeply.

  1. Traditional Prayers Teach Us the Correct Attitudes to Have Towards God: What better prayer could we devise than a prayer using the very words Jesus taught us here? Yet the “Our Father” is a traditional prayer, a prayer with set words, prone to be recited merely by rote. But in fact, traditional prayers are an invitation to meditate, set up in a way that appeals to beginners. In the “Our Father”, as in all traditional prayers, we repeat phrases that express the essence of a correct relationship with God. Whether we already hold these attitudes in our heart or not, the beauty of traditional prayers is not what we say, but how we say it. If we pray these words, trying to make them our own, conforming our heart to the attitudes they express, then little by little we will form a Christian heart, a heart that loves the way it should.
  2. Traditional Prayers Can Change My Heart and Draw It to God: When I first turned to the Lord, I had a lot to work on. Most people do. I didn’t love the way I should have. I was flawed in many other ways. One of the things that helped me was the “Our Father” as well as other traditional prayers. When we first come to the Lord, we don’t know how Christians should think, what attitudes a Christian should hold. When we pray the “Our Father” from the heart, it helps our heart to change, to become more Christ-like. It takes only a moment to pray an “Our Father”, but from time to time, we should meditate on the words. Say each phrase and repeat it, not moving on to the next phrase until we feel that we have really gotten to the bottom of what it is saying.
  3. Traditional Prayers Fight Off the Attitudes of the World: Our conversion to Christ is a change of attitudes from those of the world to those of a Christian. Every day, the world proposes its attitudes as something good that should be lived. But often what the world proposes as good is actually harmful to us. How do we resist? By constantly repeating to myself and meditating on Christian attitudes. This is what can happen in using traditional prayers. It is a way of helping our heart understand and embrace the Christianity we profess. The Christian who disdains traditional prayers is rejecting a powerful tool of conversion.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, too often I rattle off my prayers without thinking about the attitudes they contain. I want to get the full benefit of all the prayers I say every day. I want to pray these prayers more often, especially the “Our Father”, since it is the prayer that you yourself taught me.

Resolution: Today I will pray my traditional prayers with special attention and with the conviction that they will instruct me and change me in a way that leads me closer to God.


October 8, 2020  – Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

The Christian Who Doesn’t Pray Treats God like a Servant

 

Father James Swanson, LC

Luke 11:5-13

Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.” And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the master of the universe, and yet you wish to listen to me and guide me. You know all things past, present and future, and yet you respect my freedom to choose you. Holy Trinity, you are completely happy and fulfilled on your own, and yet you have generously brought us into existence. You are our fulfillment. Thank you for the gift of yourself. I offer the littleness of myself in return, knowing you are pleased with what I have to give.

Petition: Lord, through this meditation, grant me the grace of a greater dependence on you.

  1. God Wants Us to Ask: Sometimes we think that since God knows all things, we need not ask him for anything. We need only wait until God will give us what we need. Nothing could be further from the truth. In this passage, Jesus doesn’t say not to worry; instead he says that our Heavenly Father will gladly and lovingly provide whatever we need, provided we ask for it. One reason that God has arranged things this way is because if our needs were automatically provided for, a great number of us would not even realize there is a God, or we would easily forget him. There are affluent societies in which the people’s material needs are taken care of easily. Does such a situation remind the people of God, his power, or his love? When we ask God to provide for our needs, we implicitly recognize his existence and authority in our lives. God wants us to do this.
  2. Petitions in Prayer Increase My Faith: But there are even more important reasons God wants us to ask. It is in asking that our faith grows. The more I ask, the more I come into a personal relationship with God. If I never had to turn to him for my needs, I would never realize how much he wants to be a part of my life. But when I have to ask, especially if I have to put some time and effort into it, then, when my needs are satisfied, it will be very clear that God did it. It will be clear that it wasn’t me, or luck, or anything else, but God. Don’t be afraid to ask. Develop your faith by doing so.
  3. When I Don’t Ask for What I Need, I Treat God as My Servant: When we expect God to give us all we need without asking, are we not placing the whole burden of our salvation on him and nothing on ourselves? Are we not in a sense being lazy? “You know what I need, Lord. Just give it to me, take care of it, while I focus on my own interests.” Not only is this laziness, it is pride, treating God like a servant whose role is to provide whatever I need. We forget he is God. Certainly, God is generous and loving, willing to give us everything that is good for us; but he is still God, and he deserves our respect, adoration, and especially our gratitude.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, so often I expect you to take care of me without my having to ask. Help me to live my dependence on you through the practice of asking you for my needs. Increase my faith through my prayer so that I see my real dependence on you and how much you do for me.

Resolution: What do I most need today? I will ask God for it early and often.


October 9, 2020 – Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Keeping House

 

Father Patrick Butler, LC

Luke 11:15-26

When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said: “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore, they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that person is worse than the first.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are omnipotent, all-powerful. For that reason alone, I ought to ally myself to you. I believe that you can do all things. I am confident that you will act in my life. I love you because even though you are the all-powerful God, you are humble, having made yourself one like me, so that I can approach you without being intimidated, with trust.

Petition: Lord Jesus, your kingdom come in my soul!

  1. The Sign from Heaven: When Jesus casts out a demon from a soul, some of the bystanders then ask him to perform a sign from heaven. Jesus is the sign from heaven, the living presence of God with us. His casting out a demon already testifies that he can do what no one else can do. It proves that he is God. However, I want to fix my eyes on him as the object of my love, not on the spectacular things that he does. It is important to look at the Giver, not the gift he gives.
  2. The Kingdom of God: There is combat going on, and the human soul is the battleground. In this case, the man is freed of demonic possession, and one kingdom has been dispossessed of its conquest. Another Kingdom is on the move! Light is replacing darkness. Springtime melts away the winter. This brings joy and warmth to my soul.
  3. The Gentle Guest: When the soul has been freed from the effects of evil, it can be likened to a tidy house. Jesus chose to clean the house, the interior dwelling place, of the possessed man. He will not, by his choice alone, take up the vacant place in that soul. He very much desires to be there, but he knocks and wants to be invited in freely by the homeowner. Once at home in my heart, Jesus is the strong man whom no one can overcome.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, I am not content just with being liberated from sin, although that is already a great gift. I know that you are knocking at the door of my heart. I ask you to come in and make my soul your dwelling place. I have been made to be a dwelling place of the Blessed Trinity, and I desire that fullness of life.

Resolution: I will be attentive to the fact that I am a dwelling of God and look to do what is worthy of that dignity. Specifically, I will be attentive to the thoughts that pass through my mind and the words that cross my lips today.


 

October 10, 2020 – Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Mary Is My Master Educator in Virtue

 

Father James Swanson, LC

Luke 11:27-28

While Jesus was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the master of the universe, and yet you wish to listen to me and guide me. You know all things past, present and future, and yet you respect my freedom to choose you. Holy Trinity, you are completely happy and fulfilled on your own, and yet you have generously brought us into existence. You are our fulfillment. Thank you for the gift of yourself. I offer the littleness of myself in return, knowing you are pleased with what I have to give.

Petition: Lord, help me to imitate Mary.

  1. Mary’s Masterpiece: The woman in this passage has a great insight. She senses the greatness of Jesus. Probably she intuits that he is the Messiah. It is doubtful if she has guessed that he is also God-made-man. But from Jesus’ greatness, she is able to infer the greatness of Mary. It is obvious to her that whoever produced this masterpiece of humanity must have been a masterpiece of humanity herself. And she is right. The humanity of Jesus is Mary’s masterpiece. All of what she is, she imparted to him. While we cannot credit Mary with the perfections of Jesus’ divinity, we would be doing her a grave injustice to think that Jesus’ human virtues and perfections were not positively impacted by her example.
  2. The Immaculate Conception: God desired Jesus to come into this world like every one of us, as an infant, and so Jesus needed a mother. God wanted him to have the finest mother, a perfect mother, and so he gave Mary many gifts, starting with her Immaculate Conception, preserving her from original sin. Who could imagine Jesus – pure and innocent – wrapped in flesh polluted by sin for the first nine months of his existence? Would such an innocent child ever have been able to stop crying while being tended to by a sinner? The Father wanted the best for his Son and gave him the best, even though he had to provide the miracle of the Immaculate Conception in order to do it.
  3. Jesus’ Educator: Being truly human, Jesus had to learn just like any one of us. Because of his divinity, his human capacities were untainted by sin, but it was Mary who taught him how to use them, who honed them in the everyday life of the family until they were perfect – just as any mother would. Mary was the perfect one to bring out all the perfections in Jesus’ human nature. Being immaculately conceived, Mary’s mind was not wounded by sin and so was always able to discover ways of parenting and teaching that were perfectly suited to Jesus’ human nature. To educate doesn’t mean to just give knowledge. In its fullest sense, it means to train in virtue. Mary’s continuous example of virtue – hearing the word of God and observing it – was certainly compelling for Jesus in his educational upbringing.

Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, it’s hard for me to understand that, as human, you needed education just like anyone else. Help me to see that you were truly and fully human like me. Moreover, since you have already given me Mary to be my Mother, ask her to educate me too, to form me in all the virtues the way she formed them in you.

Resolution: Do I really think of Mary as my educator in the full sense, in the sense of teaching me virtue? What is the virtue I need the most? I will ask Mary to educate me in it in a special way today.


October 11, 2020 – Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Banquet is Prepared!

 

Father Daniel Ray, LC

Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here as I turn to you in prayer. I trust and have confidence in your desire to give me every grace I need to receive today. Thank you for your love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I give you my life and my love in return.

Petition: Father, help me to prepare to be received into your heavenly kingdom.

  1. A Banquet Beyond Belief: In Palestine during Christ’s time, few festive celebrations rivaled any wedding banquet, let alone a royal one. A wedding was a joyous time, the greatest moment in the lives of the newlyweds. For a royal wedding, it was the greatest moment in the life of the whole kingdom. With his parable of the royal wedding banquet, Christ is giving us a sense of the heaven that he is preparing for us. He is telling each of us, “There is nothing greater than what I want to celebrate with you in eternity!” So if any of our ideas of heaven include something that doesn’t seem attractive or worthwhile, we haven’t yet understood heaven. We should ask Christ to give us a glimpse of the joy he wants us to have with him in heaven.
  2. Worthy Is as Worthy Does: The king sent invitations to many people, but the response was not what he had hoped for. They rejected his generosity, preferring their own less-than-stellar lives (one went off to his farm, another to attend to some business) over accepting the invitation and participating in the king’s rejoicing. Of course, none of them really deserved to be invited: They hadn’t made themselves worthy by some merit of their own. The king invited them out of his generosity. What made them truly unworthy was their lack of response to this generosity. Their “worthiness” was a gift given to them freely, and it was lost only when they refused the gift. We might ask ourselves, “Am I worthy of heaven?” If we are honest, we realize that the answer is “No.” But in Christ’s eyes, that’s not the important question. The real question is, “Am I responding to and accepting the gifts he has already extended to me?”
  3. Underdressed for the Occasion: It is embarrassing for both host and guest when a guest arrives at an elegant banquet dressed in shorts and a t-shirt—thinking he was going to an outdoor pig roast or because he did not know any better. It is another situation altogether when the guest intentionally doesn’t dress up because he doesn’t care, or is presumptuous. Then the host is offended, not just embarrassed. In this parable the king is offended because the guest knew he needed to wear a wedding robe and chose not to. Living in God’s sanctifying grace and friendship is the wedding robe we need to wear in order to be received into the eternal banquet. Christ is warning us against the ultimate pride of presumption: showing up at heaven’s gate without the one thing we know we need in order to share in Christ’s joy. If we strive every day to please our Lord and to live in his grace, we’ll have our wedding gown ready for the banquet.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, the gift of heaven you have gained for me is beyond any merit of my own, but it shows me how great your generosity is. How can I not but thank you? How can I not but strive each day to respond to and accept with joyful humility all the graces you want to give me, even when it is most difficult for me?

Resolution: To respond to God’s love today, I will accept willingly any difficulty or hardship that comes my way.

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