Thursday, 18 August 2022 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the need for each one of us to be transformed in our lives through Christ and through our faith in Him so that our lives may be exemplary as Christians, and be good inspirations and we may also be role models for one another in how each and every one of us ought to live up our lives each day. God has shown us the way to Him, and what we need to do is to embrace Him and to prepare ourselves to be good Christians, obedient and observant of God’s Law and commandments.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel we heard the words of the Lord calling on all of His people to abandon their wickedness, their evil ways and all the sins they had committed, and to turn to Him with a new heart. He told them all that He would give them all a new heart, replacing their old wicked heart of stone and giving them a new heart full of love and life, through which they will come closer to God, purified from their sins and evils, returning back to Him, and reunited with Him, to be His people and be blessed and filled with grace once again.

Back then, the Israelites had went though a lot of tribulations and hardships, with their kingdoms and homeland destroyed, them uprooted from their lands and humiliated by losing the lands of their ancestors. They and their ancestors had disobeyed the Lord, abandoned His Law and commandments, refusing to listen to and obey the Law of the Lord, and hardening their hearts and minds against Him. They worshipped pagan idols and gods, and even persecuting and killing the prophets and messengers whom God had sent to them to help and remind them of their obligation and calling as His people.

As such, because of the hardening of their hearts, many of the people of God had been sundered from Him, and many were lost to Him, falling into the path of sin and probably to eternal damnation. This is a fate which the Lord’s parable in our Gospel passage today also echoed. In that parable, the Lord spoke of a king who hosted a wedding banquet for his son, and when he invited his guests, those guests refused to listen to him or to attend the banquet despite the reminders and the invitations that they had sent to them, making excuses and even insulting and killing those servants whom the king had sent to them, a tacit comparison with the state of how the people of God persecuted the prophets and messengers of God in the past.

Thus, the king sent a new invitation to the new batch of guests, after he had punished and crushed all those unworthy and deviant guests who refused to attend the wedding banquet. The king called forth everyone to come to his banquet, calling them from all sorts of places, which is a reference to how the Lord has called everyone, all the children of mankind, and not just the Israelites anymore, to be His disciples and followers, and to enter into His kingdom and way of truth. The Lord called on all of us to enter into His banquet, to rejoice together in His presence forevermore.

However, as we all know, in order to attend a banquet, or any important event, there are certain expectations for us to fulfil, and one of them is that we have to be properly dressed and attired. Even at the time of the Lord Jesus, when many of the people were poor, during the time of any religious festivals and celebrations, the people would still come dressed in the best clothes they could afford or which they possessed, that they might worthily be present in the celebration. That is referring to our attitudes and our way of living our lives with faith, brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are to come to the presence of the Lord, then should we not do our very best to live our lives according to His ways?

That is why we heard what happened to the guest who came without the wedding garment, or a garment suitable to be worn into that event. The king asked the guest and then sent that unworthy guest out, cast out to suffer in the darkness, much as those who had rejected his invitation in the first place. This is an important reminder that unless we come to the Lord with a heart and mind filled with love for Him, with genuine and true faith, then we can have no place with Him and in Him in His kingdom. And if we remain stubborn with this attitude, then unfortunately our lot will be to endure forever the suffering and the damnation that comes with our own conscious rejection of God’s love, grace and truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all keep all these in mind as we continue to progress ever more in our lives, and remind ourselves to keep faithful to God in all things and at all times. We should remove from ourselves all taints of wickedness and evils, all stubbornness and allow the Lord to change us and our hearts and minds just as He had said that He would do. Let us allow the Lord to place in each one of us a new, beating heart, living and vibrant with love for Him and for our fellow brethren, and remove from ourselves our past hearts of stone, full of stubbornness, pride and ego.

May the Lord continue to guide us all and help us in our journey of life, that we may continue to walk faithfully in His presence at all times. May God bless us and all of our good efforts and endeavours for His greater glory. Amen.

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