When I glance at news headlines, I see a world that is going downhill at an ever-increasing pace. Hurricanes, earthquakes, shootings, and fires are sweeping our planet. In addition to natural and man-made disasters, there is so much anger and division surrounding politics that has crept into everyone’s daily consciousness. And while I don’t think we’re living in the end times, seeing how quickly things can go from normal to chaotic makes me take stock of my life. Am I prepared for an emergency? Is my soul prepared in the event of an unexpected death? How does scripture and Rosary prayer prepare me for the unexpected?
Last Sunday’s Gospel speaks to our lack of preparation for something we all know is coming. The Gospel likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a wedding feast to which everyone was invited. And yet, one of the people was not prepared for the wedding feast and did not have the proper attire. The king, who was hosting the party, threw the unprepared guest out.
Whenever I hear this Gospel I can’t help but feel sorry for the person who did not have the proper wedding attire. After all, he was not planning on going to a wedding banquet on that day. Why would he be walking down a road with his wedding attire in hand? Or even more curiously, why did everyone else have their wedding clothes at the ready? He was just going about his business, was told that there was a party and he was invited, and then the king humiliated him and threw him out. I sometimes feel like the lesson of this parable is that we should be cautious in accepting God’s offer of grace because it comes with strings attached. What is Jesus trying to tell us?
I don’t know much about Jewish customs in the first century AD so I may be making some very incorrect assumptions. But I like to think that maybe, upon receiving the invitation to the wedding feast, people had time to quickly go home and get dressed appropriately. But the one man who did not fetch his wedding garment maybe thought, “I’m sure the king will be okay if I just come as I am.” He may have thought that since the king was inviting everyone that he probably wouldn’t be very choosy about how the guests chose to conduct themselves.
In case you haven’t made the connection, the parable of the wedding feast is about our death and God’s judgment. Like the king inviting everyone to the wedding, God invites us all into His heavenly kingdom. But we do have to come prepared with a soul free of mortal sin. God will not accept us if our souls are not in the proper state. For many of us, that may mean time in Purgatory. For others, they will be turned out of the kingdom entirely. But unlike the travelers on the road who received a surprise invitation to the king’s banquet, we all know that God invites us to His heavenly banquet. We have plenty of time to get ready so that we can enter into His kingdom confidently because we adequately prepared.
When I pray the Rosary, I often meditate on my death and judgment on the Second Glorious Mystery — Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven. I recall the words of the Creed, “He ascended into Heaven and is seated next to God, the Father Almighty. He will come to judge the living and the dead.” It’s right there in the creed we profess every time we pray the Rosary and at Mass. Jesus will judge us and assess our worthiness to enter His Father’s house after our death. There’s no mystery, surprises, or ambiguity about that.
Yes, God is a God of love and mercy which is why He so readily forgives us when we ask for it through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But we have to show that we want to be with Him and His kingdom through our words, thoughts, and actions. We have to choose Heaven and work towards it and not assume God will be okay with our inappropriate choices we made in life. When we make the assumption that we can enter Heaven no matter how we chose to live, we are like the foolish man who had time to prepare and did not take advantage of it.
Lord, as I pray this second glorious mystery of the Rosary, may I remember that You have prepared a place for me in Your kingdom. May my every action, thought, and word be conducted with the knowledge of Your final judgment. May my love for you, Oh Lord, be so great that I avoid bad choices in life that would make me unprepared to enter into Your kingdom.