[quote style=”boxed” ]“Left Behind” is the title of a Nicholas Cage movie that has just opened in theaters in Manila. The movie teaser has an apocalyptic message: Those who believe in Jesus Christ will be taken to heaven… The non-believers will be left behind to face the apocalypse.”[/quote]
The word “apocalypse” struck me, and I looked it up in the dictionary. There are two very concise definitions of it. First, it is the complete final destruction of the world, especially as described in the biblical book of Revelation, and second, it is an event involving destruction or damage in an awesome or catastrophic scale.
I am no prophet but if I am to apply the meaning of the word to current events, I could say that the apocalypse may have started when the US Supreme Court decided to allow same-sex marriage in at least five states. I haven’t read the complete transcript of the decision, and I don’t know how the SC justices arrive at it. The only conclusion I can make is that those sitting at the US Supreme Court are not Bible-reading persons because if they are, they would not have missed the Genesis in which God explicitly said that marriage is between a man and a woman.
This decision will have a tremendous adverse impact on the moral fiber of society, and it is dreadful to even think that we are now seeing the apocalyptic sign of the downfall of the modern Roman empire.
The gospel reading for Oct. 12 (Mt 22:1-14) is somehow related to the apocalyptic theme of the movie “Left Behind.” In Mt 22:1-14 we find a beautiful parable which shows us what awaits those who will ignore the Lord’s invitation, and it also provides us a window of opportunity to amend our ways and prepare our wedding garments just in case we receive our invitation to attend the wedding banquet.
We should, however, look back at how a wedding banquet was prepared during the time of Jesus. This would enable us to understand why the king was enraged when his invitation was ignored by those he had invited to the wedding feast for his son.
The tradition in those days called for wedding invitations to be sent way ahead of the date of the wedding. This is to give those invited enough time to prepare their wedding garment that was made of the finest linen that was seamless.
There were three invitations and two types of judgments in this parable. The first invitation was simply ignored by those invited. In the second invitation, those invited went about their business as usual and did not attend. And they even mistreated and killed some of the king’s servants. This prompted the king to issue his first judgment with which the king sent out his army to destroy those who killed his servants.
The third invitation was made to just about anybody the servants met on the street. In the second judgment, the king threw out of his palace a guest who was not wearing the proper wedding clothes.
The fate that befell those who ignored the king’s invitation and the improperly dressed guest should serve as a warning to all of us in that this parable is an eschatological event, and this should provide us with the opportunity to prepare our wedding garment that we will need when the wedding invitation comes.
The beauty of this parable is that we can start looking into our own selves and see what areas of our lives we may have fallen short of what Our God expects of us. This parable gives us the chance to check if our wedding garment will be good enough to give us a seat at the wedding feast.
And if and when the invitation comes, how are we going to handle it? Are we going to ignore it and just go about our work? What is it that keeps us busy that we cannot even think of God? What is it that we are doing that we can’t even find time to even think of going to the most important feast of all? Isn’t our salvation more important than our interests whatever these may be? Are we holding on to material things and possessions and/or activities that cut into our prayer time? We alone can find the answers to these questions, and hopefully we will find them before Our God dispenses with his judgment upon us.
These are the things that we should do to merit God’s favor. Our garment may be made of good deeds such as alms-giving, corporal works of mercy, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist as often as possible, prayer-fasting, service to the Church and/or to the community and, most importantly, the garment of love that we share not just with our loved ones but with those whom we don’t even know but whom we meet along the way.
In other words, for us to merit a seat in the wedding feast we need to live a life of true discipleship that is anchored on the cross, a life that is consistent with the life that the Son of God offered for the ransom of many.
(To our readers, let me invite you to attend the prayer meeting of BLD Detroit that is held every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the St. Paul of the Cross parish church, Detroit, Michigan. For prayer requests, email Ed Malay at [email protected])