Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 23; Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20; Matthew 22:1-14)
Accepting Jesus’ Invitation to Say Yes to Him
Cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. (Matthew 22:13)
How crowded is heaven? How about hell? Theologians have debated this question for centuries. Some have taught that everyone (or almost everyone) will get to heaven. Others have argued that only a few will be saved. Who is right?
No one really knows. Whatever the answer is, today’s Gospel reading makes one thing clear: heaven isn’t a matter of who is worthy or unworthy. It’s a matter of who accepts God’s invitation and who rejects it.
Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus using exaggeration to make his point. He doesn’t really want us to cut off our hands or pluck out our eyes (Matthew 5:29-30). He is doing a similar thing in today’s passage by telling such an extreme story. But there is always a point to these exaggerations: we will all face a final judgment, and it’s risky to remain indifferent or to treat his invitation lightly.
Where do you stand? Have you done your own risk-reward analysis? Take some time today to think about it. Whether you believe heaven is for the few or the many, the risk of being kept away from it is too great to ignore.
The good news is that none of us has to take that risk! God didn’t mean for it to be hard for us to accept his invitation to eternal life. He hasn’t set out a daunting obstacle course for us to master before he will admit us to heaven. All he wants us to do is to believe that Jesus has saved us and to try our best to follow him.
So when you wake up every day, tell the Lord, “Jesus, I believe you are my Savior and Lord. I accept your invitation. I don’t want anything to keep me away from you today.” And every evening before you go to sleep, tell him, “Lord, I’m sorry for the ways I failed you. Give me your grace to do better tomorrow.” It’s that simple.
“Jesus, I accept your invitation. I want to be with you both now and forever.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the Mass readings and prayers, and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In the first reading, Isaiah describes the “rich food” and “choice wines” that will be provided by the Lord. Every day at prayer we have an opportunity to consume the richness of the word of God. At every Mass, we have an opportunity to come into his presence and receive his very life in the Eucharist. How do you usually approach prayer and the Eucharist? What steps can you take to experience more deeply the presence of the Lord in your times of personal prayer and when you receive the Eucharist?
- The responsorial psalm, Psalm 23, is probably the one we are most familiar with. Yet this familiarity can cause us to miss the psalm’s uplifting words. It speaks of the Lord’s abiding presence with you each day as he “refreshes my soul” and “guides me in the right path”. In addition, “for you are at my side” are also words of great comfort no matter where our day leads us. How conscious are you during the day of the Lord’s abiding presence? What can you do to make yourself more aware of his presence each day?
- The second reading has some of St. Paul’s most uplifting words: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” and “My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with the glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” These are great words to remember, as you turn to God and ask for his help in difficult situations. How often do you “consult” the Lord when making a decision versus just relying on your own wisdom and strength? What practical things can you do to involve him more in your daily decision making?
- In the Gospel’s story of the wedding feast, we can be like the individuals who either ignore the invitation or are so wrapped up in day to day responsibilities we don’t have time to accept the Lord’s invitation. Do you see God’s desire to be part of your lives as a marvelous opportunity to experience a deeper relationship with him? If so, how can you respond to God’s invitation?
- The Gospel story also deals with a guest who was not wearing a wedding garment. Jesus wants us to be wearing the right garment for his wedding feast. What do you believe the wedding garment represents for each of us as Catholic Christians?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “God didn’t mean for it to be hard for us to accept his invitation to eternal life. He hasn’t set out a daunting obstacle course for us to master before he will admit us to heaven. All he wants us to do is to believe that Jesus has saved us and to try our best to follow him.” The meditation then suggests an approach to help us live out our yes to Jesus’ invitation: “So when you wake up every day, tell the Lord, “Jesus, I believe you are my Savior and Lord. I accept your invitation. I don’t want anything to keep me away from you today.” And every evening before you go to sleep, tell him, “Lord, I’m sorry for the ways I failed you. Give me your grace to do better tomorrow.” Are you willing to try this approach and see what happens? If not, why not?
- Take some time now to pray and ask Jesus for the grace to say yes to his invitation to give your life more fully to him. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.