Thursday, 21 August 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

Today's gospel reading talks about a king giving a wedding banquet for his son. Usually when Jesus speaks of a king he means God, and the wedding business ties in neatly with St. Paul calling the church "the Bride of Christ". What about the guests who had been invited but would not come? I'm guessing these are the people who heard God's Word but do not respond, ranging from Jews who stray away from their God to atheists round the world today. These people are indifferent because they put their needs and worldly ambitions as more important than God, or they simply do not believe His servants (prophets and priests/pastors).
I've read opinions from a few atheists saying that one of the reasons they don't believe in God is that they couldn't reconcile a loving God with a God who condemns and tortures those who didn't believe in Him or sinned against Him. But doesn't God have the right to get angry? Doesn't He have the right to punish as He sees fit? So we see with the king in the parable. He was furious with those who mistreated his servants, so he killed them and destroyed their homes. We see this happening many times in the Old Testament. Then the king decide to invite all and sundry to his feast. These would be the Gentiles, or just simply anyone, rich and poor, clever and foolish, powerful and weak, bad and good.
But just because one is escorted into the feast hall doesn't mean one can stay there. Look at the man who did not wear wedding clothes. I interpret this as a person (or people) who became Christians but did not wish to change their lifestyles to suit God's laws. These people continue their pre-Christian ways and thus did not put on the wedding garment of true Christian discipleship. In the parable such people were ejected from the feast into the outer darkness. If we see the feast as Heaven / Paradise, then the outer darkness is Hell. If we want to belong in Heaven then we must be worthy of Heaven and our daily lives must reflect this worthiness.

Memorial of Saint Pius X, pope

So who is this pope turned saint? Here's what Wikipedia has on him:

- born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto in Riese, province of Treviso, Italy on June 2, 1835
- attended the Seminary of Padua after which he was ordained a priest on September 18, 1858 and became chaplain at Tombolo
- became Arch-Priest of Salzano in 1867
- was made Canon (or Chancellor) of the Cathedral and Diocese of Treviso
- was elected to the position of Bishop of Treviso in 1879
- was made Cardinal-Priest of Saint Bernardo alle Terme on June 12, 1893 by Pope Leo XIII
- three days later was publicly named Patriarch of Venice
- On 4 August 1903, was elected to the 257th Pontificate- took as his Papal name Pius X, out of respect for his recent predecessors of the same name
- was a fervent reformer of Church practices and regulations such as the Canon Law, his most important reform, which for the first time codified Church law in a central fashion
- was a Marian Pope - to him, there is no safer or more direct road than Mary, who is uniting all mankind in Christ
- down to earth and practical teachings, favoured the use of modern language in Catechesis
- defended the Catholic faith against popular 19th century views such as indifferentism (a condemned heresy that holds that one religion is as good as another, and that all religions are equally valid paths to salvation), relativism (denial of the capacity of the human mind and reason to arrive at absolute truth, i.e. God), and modernism (a theological school of thought which claimed that Catholic dogma itself should be modernized and blended with modern philosophies)
- often referred to his own humble origins: I was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor.
- died on 20 August 1914, declared "Venerable" on 12 February 1943, beatified on 17 February 1952, and canonized on 29 May 1954 - was the first Pope since Pope Pius V to be canonized

Bible Readings for Today (Memorial of Saint Pius X, pope)

Today is Thu 21 Aug, and here are the readings:

Ezekiel 36: 23-28
Thus says the LORD: I will magnify my great name that has been profaned among the nations, that you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the sovereign Lord, when I magnify myself among you in their sight. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries; then I will bring you to your land. I will sprinkle you with pure water and you will be clean from all your impurities. I will purify you from all your idols. I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations. Then you will live in the land I gave to your fathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

Matthew 22: 1-14
Jesus spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to summon those who had been invited to the banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Look! The feast I have prepared for you is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”’ But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them. The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but the ones who had been invited were not worthy. So go into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all they found, both bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the wedding guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ But he had nothing to say. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”