20th Week, Thursday, 8-20-20, Year A, Optional Memorial – St. Bernard, Abbot & Doctor of the Church

St. Bernard was born in 1090 in Dijon, France and came from a wealthy family with a religious upbringing.

When he was 21, he joined the Cistercians and was later chosen abbot of the monastery in Clairvaux, France. He practiced the Benedictine rule with faith and devotion. All his brothers and his sister followed him into religious life.

He wrote many theological and spiritual works, mostly in letters. He fought against schisms in the Church all throughout Europe and had a devout and large following.
He was the preacher of the second crusade. He died in 1153. He is the patron saint of the Cistercian Order, beekeepers and candlemakers.

Readings: 1st – Ez 36:23, Gospel – Mt 22:1-14
Theme: Paying Heed to The Past

It’s funny how history repeats itself. Sometimes we never seem to figure it out how not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Why do we do that? We do it mostly because of pride. We want to do things on our own, as we decide. We don’t need someone else telling us what to do. So, we wander around the streets looking for our destination because we’re too prideful to ask someone for directions. We don’t heed our parents or grandparents. We don’t give them the time of day to learn what they learned so we don’t repeat their mistakes or receive their wisdom to avoid them.

In today’s Gospel Jesus is reminding the chief priest and scribes of Israel’s past mistakes. How God lived among them and brought them out of bondage in Egypt. How He called them to the banquet of His kingdom in the land of Canaan as His people, and how they rejected Him when their judges and kings sinned in His sight. How He exiled them for their sins and then found favor among many Babylonians and commoners who listen to Him.

Jesus’ parable is also a reflection of His own life on Earth. How He came down from heaven and lived among the Jews. How He invited them to hear His word and celebrate the banquet of His Gospel. How the chief priests and scribes rejected this invitation from His Father and put Him to death. And how the risen Jesus, through Peter and the Apostles, brought that invitation of the Gospel to the Gentiles. And finally, how there was wailing and gnashing of teeth when the Jewish temple was destroyed, and their lives changed because they rejected the invitation to God’s banquet.

Isn’t our society and culture today doing the same thing? Isn’t our society rejecting God’s invitation to His heavenly kingdom? Isn’t society killing those who try to proclaim that Gospel invitation by character attacks, calling them racist, exclusionists, out of touch and intolerant? Is the hate and anger today we are experiencing that of God leaving those who reject Him so that they are left to their own designs without His help as He has done in the past?

Aren’t there only a few people left who are looking for God and His message and when they find it, they devour it with gladness? And aren’t there those who hear the Gospel invitation and listen but think the Gospel is just a nice story and they remain indifferent, unaffected, and unchanged? They forgot their wedding garment. We know what happens to those who are lukewarm or indifferent, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Unfortunately, our society seems to be on a path to repeat these mistakes of the past. God will leave us to our free will as He did those before us. We know how those stories end.

Jesus was very clear over two thousand years ago, and the message is as clear now as it was then. When invited to a wedding, wear your best clothes, be on your best behavior, thank the host and abide by his commands with humility. This is His house and you’re invited so be glad and share in the banquet of heavenly life, because not many will choose to come and not many will have prepared for such a grand event.

If you truly live all that is taught in the Bible and understand it through Christ’s Church, with over two thousand years of study and interpretation by thousands of scholars and intellectuals, knowing that the same tenants of the faith exist today as they did when Christ taught them, then consider yourself blessed for you are attending the banquet.

For the rest, we must pray that God have mercy on those who reject Him. And for those who accept the invitation but are unprepared, it is our duty in Christ to help them to see the true light, that which is the Holy Trinity. We must help them find their wedding garment so they, too, can share in the great banquet of heavenly life forever.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL