If you spend any time on the internet or social media these days, you’ll know that a lot of people are really obsessed with the fact that international pop star Taylor Swift is currently dating Travis Kelce, Tight End for the defending Super Bowl champs, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now let’s imagine, for a moment, that Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce end up getting engaged — and a couple days later, when you go to check your mail, you are shocked to discover a big fancy invitation to their wedding!
T-Swift and Travis Kelce want YOU to be at their wedding!!!!
Now… lemme ask you:
Would you for one single SECOND think of turning down Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce? Would you casually throw that invitation into the trash and refuse to go?
OF COURSE NOT!
In fact, I bet there wouldn’t be ANYTHING on the face of the earth that could prevent you from going to that party! What a privilege to be invited to the celebrity event of a generation! What a shocking, yet pleasant surprise! What a gift!!!!
Well, God’s invitation is infinitely better, infinitely more valuable than anything like that…
In the parable Jesus shares with us this weekend, we hear that the King is throwing his Son, the prince, a spectacular, massive, once-in-a-lifetime wedding banquet. This is the happiest day of the Father’s life. All the arrangements have been made. Everything is ready. He has worked so hard to make this the most beautiful, most extravagant wedding imaginable. The invitations are all sent out, and now, the King eagerly awaits the guests to come and celebrate with Him.
The only problem is… Nobody seems to care —
“They refuse to come” we hear.
Apparently, this magnificent event — the happiest day of this Father’s life — is totally irrelevant to them. They are uninterested. Unenthused. They don’t want to be there.
As Jesus once lamented elsewhere in the gospels: “You refuse to come to me that you may have life!”
Their refusal is supposed to be unimaginable — ABSURD even! How could anyone decline an invitation to such an event?
And yet if we’re really honest with ourselves — don’t we basically do the same thing? Don’t we refuse God in a million little ways each and every day?
I know when I look at my own heart, I see how casually I turn down the Lord… refuse so many of His persistent invitations.
I’ll share a very simple, personal example from my own life:
So, like many people…I NEED coffee in the morning.
My daily routine is to wake up, brew a cup of coffee, and then go pray in the rectory chapel for about an hour… I pray the Liturgy of the Hours and then spend quiet time with the Lord. …while enjoying my cup of coffee!
Well, recently, my Keurig broke, and so it became much more difficult and inconvenient to get coffee immediately when I woke up.
But instead of getting up, praying my holy hour in the chapel as I normally would — WITHOUT coffee — I opted instead to go OUT of my way… break my ORDINARY routine… and drive all the way over to Panera as soon as it opened… just to get that coveted, strictly-necessary, absolutely imperative, non-negotiable cup of coffee.
Jesus in the Tabernacle, meanwhile, was all alone back in the rectory.
Now, in my defense, I DID pray at Panera… BUT my point is THIS… Why was I so willing to disrupt the most important part of my daily routine — spending time with Jesus in the rectory chapel — for a cup of coffee?
Why did I essentially choose coffee over Jesus? Why was I willing to negotiate with and even snub my time before the Blessed Sacrament, but so unwilling to alter my caffeine intake?
That’s nuts. That’s absurd. Frankly, that’s unacceptable!
And yet aren’t we willing to bend over backwards for all sorts of things — for friends and family, for our kids education, for our entertainment, for sports, for doctors appointments, for our own personal desires — we’re ready to flip the whole world upside down and sacrifice just about anything for things like that!!! Things that we love and value… Things that we prioritize…
But we tend to very easily shrug off God…
“Eh, I’m sure He’ll understand…It’s ok if I don’t pray today.” “It won’t hurt if I miss just this one Holy Day of Obligation!” “We’re on vacation… the Lord will understand if I miss mass this one Sunday.”
A great CS Lewis quote comes to mind here. He said this: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
We can’t afford to shrug off or ignore the Lord’s invitation — It’s just too important. Too eternally important! What God is preparing for us is just TOO GOOD for us to brush off as irrelevant or unimportant.
As the first reading described it, “The Lord will provide for all peoples a FEAST of rich good and choice winds, juicy rich food and pure choice wines!” “My cup OVERFLOWS,” Psalm 23 says. The cup of the Lord is not half full and it’s not half-empty either: It’s OVERFLOWING.
But what exactly are we being invited to, anyway?
Spiritual Marriage. We are each being invited to have a perfect, intimate, spiritual union with God.
Consider Jesus’ parable for a moment:
If the “King” in the parable is God the Father… and the bridegroom is Jesus, God the Son — then we should ask: “Wait… so who is the Bride in the parable?”
The short answer is: Us.
We’re the Bride. Each of us, and all of us together as a body of believers.
The Church is the Bride of Christ.
This truth has deep, biblical roots. There are countless nuptial images throughout Scripture — showing God’s love to be compared to that of a faithful husband wooing His Bride, even while the Bride rejects and refuses Him over and over in various ways. The prophet Isaiah goes so far as to say: “For as a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.”
Teresa of Avila, whose feast day would be today, October 15th if it wasn’t a Sunday, wrote a LOT about this Spiritual Marriage — this nuptial union — that we are all called to enjoy with God forever.
“In the spiritual marriage,” she says “the union is like what we have when rain falls from the sky into a river; all is water, for the rain that fell from heaven cannot be divided or separated from the water of the river.”
That’s just beautiful. The intimacy we are invited to have with God will be so close, so inseparable that it can be compared to rain water falling into and being united with the waters of a river!
We will enjoy the perfection of this intimacy only in Heaven — but we can get a taste of it today.
In just a few minutes actually! On this altar!
Each and every Sunday, we come to this sacrificial banquet of the Holy Eucharist — the Lord’s Body and Blood, crucified and risen — and we participate even now (in a veiled and hidden way) in the Infinite, Unending Spiritual Marriage.
At every single Mass, we hear those beautiful words: “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb!”
Blessed — HAPPY. ECSTATIC. GRATEFUL. OVERJOYED. MINDBLOWN…. BLESSED are those invited and called to participate in the GREAT ETERNAL wedding feast, the never-ending, never-boring PARTY of Heaven! The Marriage Supper of the Lamb!
That’s Jesus Himself inviting you to receive all Joy.
In this Broken Host — in this tiny circle of white, God is saying to all of us: “Everything is ready. Come to the feast!”
So when we receive the Holy Eucharist, we are united with Jesus, the Bridegroom. We become one flesh with Him! There is no separation now between us and Him. It’s like a rain drop falling into the river!
And here’s the really incredible thing:
Everyone is invited to this Supper of the Lamb!
As Jesus tells us in the parable, the King instructed his servants: “Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.” And so the servants “went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.”
God’s love overflows so much, that after the refusal of those initially invited to the party, He generously throws open the doors to the ENTIRE WORLD — all the Riff-raff… all the unwanted, the outcasts, the marginalized, the broken… they are now the honored guests of His Son’s marriage banquet. And on an even deeper level… they become themselves the Bride! The Church!!!
Jesus came to call sinners — to do what? To be with Him. To be united with Him. To be wedded to Him.
“Come to me, all of you! And I will give you rest! I will give you the union you thirst for! The perfect satisfaction you yearn for! I will give you My own Body and Blood! My own Soul and Divinity!”
Our responsibility, therefore (and I’ll end with this) — Our responsibility is to be attentive and actively receptive to God’s grace here at this Feast we’ve been welcomed into.
As we learned at the conclusion of Jesus’ parable today, it’s apparently not enough simply to arrive at the marriage banquet. It’s not sufficient just to show up physically…
We need to be wearing the proper wedding garment, as well.
Which is to say: We need the right dispositions. We need that openness and purity of heart… A willingness to be transformed. None of us have earned our way into the Church. None of us are worthy of the insane generosity of God. In fact, right after those words: “Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb,” we immediately say: “Lord I am NOT worthy that you should enter under my roof.”
So clothed with that humility and with that desire to please God in all things — with an active heart, a contrite heart, with eagerness to do good and avoid evil, we boldly enter the Wedding Banquet. We enter into Union with our Beloved.
Don’t ever refuse Him. Don’t ever turn Him down.