There are many things that we avoid discussing nowadays, such as death and judgment or heaven and hell. And yet, in today’s gospel, these four things stare us in the face and demand our attention – and although discussing such topics can make us uncomfortable, the discussion is worth the discomfort. As the saying goes, “no pain, no gain”. So what does today’s gospel have to say about death, judgment, heaven and hell? Quite a bit.
“The kingdom of heaven”, Jesus states, “may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son” (Mt 22:2). The invitation to this wedding party was a free gift offered by the king to his subjects. This invitation could be accepted or rejected. So it is with the kingdom of heaven. God freely offers us the gift of spending an eternity with Him, and we can either accept or reject this gift. Of course, we might ask ourselves, why would anyone reject God’s offer of heaven? Simply put, we reject God’s gift of heaven because we do not want it. As in Jesus’ parable, we “make light of it and [go] off, one to his farm, another to his business” (Mt 22:5). In other words, we reject God’s gift of heaven because we are too caught up in other lesser goods. We have a farm that we must tend; we have a business that we must manage; we have appointments that we must keep. We are too busy to love God. But such decisions have consequences.
Immediately upon death, each of us will stand before God and He will pronounce judgment over us. Everyone will hear Him say either “depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Mt 7:23) or “well done good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your lord” (Mt 25:21). Such judgment, while sounding harsh, is simply the ratification of our decision to either love God or turn away from Him. The choice is entirely our own. Will we accept God’s invitation, or will we go our own way? May God always grant us the grace to accept so marvelous an invitation.
Ian Mahood – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta
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