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" Attendite." O all ye who go by the way, stay and listen to this Angel's words.
Blessed are they who are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
The festivities begun in that hour will never suddenly come to an end, or be disturbed. In this world, laughter shall be mingled with sorrow, and mourning taketh hold of the end (the skirts) of joy (Prov. xiv.). Not so there, for neither mourning nor crying nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away (Apoc. xxi.).
Are we not by nature, even to excess, lovers of pleasure ? Why then not secure for ourselves the true joys that are to be eternal ?
B. Our Blessed Saviour has told us that the happiness of Heaven will consist in this, that they shall know Thee, the only true God, and Him Whom Thou hast sent, Jesus Christ (St. John xvii.).
But the knowledge will be a full and complete knowledge. We shall see God as He is (1 St. John iii.) in Himself; and this complete knowledge will constrain us to love Him with all our hearts, with all our minds, with our whole strength. Here on earth saints get a foretaste of this blissful knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ.
C. St. Paul, who has been allowed to taste so largely of heavenly joys, is not afraid, after that, to utter boldly these astounding words, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans viii.).
St. Bernard also, in his most devout hymn, has a word that may encourage us to ask and seek and knock perseveringly, in order to obtain a strong love of our Lord. He says: Expertus potest credere, quid sit Jesum diligere--• He who has tried and tasted, and he alone, can rightly believe what it is to love Jesus ”.
Again he sent other servants, etc.
to his merchandise (v. 5).
A. One to his farm, another to his merchandise. If we refuse our Lord's invitation here, what shall we do during the long eternity? We shall have no pleasant farm, no interesting merchandise to occupy us, to distract our tortured minds from the everlasting meditation on our own incredible foolishness. The serpent deceived me we shall repeat with weeping and wailing, and Satan will answer scornfully : “ Child of Heaven, you elected to serve me. Be content ! you have had your reward, your heaven. Remember your pleasant farm and your merchandise, and how well things went with you!”
B. Again he sent other servants. Mark well how anxious our Heavenly Father is to gather us into His home. Anna, the mother of young Tobias, when he was absent, could by no means be comforted, but daily running out looked round about and went into all the ways by which there seemed any hope he might return, that she might if possible see him coming afar off (Tobias x.). Even so, as Jesus Christ tells us, our Heavenly Father is looking with infinite longing for His Prodigal, and sees him when he is yet afar off. Yet we hear men say : “I wish I could have faith, but I cannot”; “I wish I could get contrition, but I cannot”. The spirits of darkness never tire of whispering lies : Many say to my soul, There is no salvation for him in his God (Psalm iii.).
How blessed they who answer this calumny of the father of lies with the Psalmist's words: But Thou, O Lord, art my protector, my glory, and the lifter up of my head. I have cried to the Lord with my voice, and He hath heard me from His holy hill. I have slept and have taken my rest, and I have risen up because the Lord hath protected me. I will not fear thousands of the people surrounding me. Arise, O Lord, save me, O my God (Psalm iii.).
And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated
them contumeliously, put them to death. But when the King had heard of it, he was angry, and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city (vv. 6, 7).
A. When our Lord on a former occasion preached the substance of this parable in Galilee (St. Luke xiv.), He omitted this sentence. He said that all the invited began to make excuses, but He did not add that they laid hands on the servants and were consequently destroyed. Now He conceals nothing, He reveals all that is coming in order to move His enemies to repent before it be too late. I have spread forth My hands all the day to an unbelieving people who walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts (Isaias lxv.).
Then he said to his servants : The marriage indeed is ready,
but they that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find call to the marriage. And his servants going forth into the ways gathered together all that they found, both bad and good, and the marriage was filled with guests (vv. 8-10).
A. First of all we must thank God very heartily that we have been gathered into His Church out of the highways, and not left out among the heretics and unbelievers.
B. Secondly, we must not forget that within the visible Church on earth there are bad and good. Fools indeed, and blind guides are they who, duped by Satan, undertake to invent new religions because they find scandals in the Church of Christ.
C. Thirdly, St. Peter shows us a much wiser course. Not content with being in the Church, you must, he tells us, labour that by good works you may make your calling and election sure (2 St. Peter ii.).
D. The servants gathered both bad and good.
Outside the pale of the visible Church, there are many properly baptised, some of whom may have kept the commandments from their youth. These the Apostles of Christ often gather into the visible fold because in their souls sin is not resisting grace. Again, Christ's Apostles sometimes find it easy to deal with souls that have sinned grievously, because their falls have humbled them and thus removed the great barrier of pride.
Those who resist God most are the proud, and He also resists them. To the proud Pharisees and Rulers, Christ says, as we have seen, The publicans and harlots shall go into the Kingdom of God before you. Even so, there is often better hope for fallen sinners conscious of their degradation, than for those false teachers who, blinded by great pride, give no heed at all to that warning of the Holy Ghost: Neither doth any man take the honour to him. self, but he that is called by God as Aaron was (Hebrews v.). They prophesy falsely to you in My Name, and I have not sent them, saith the Lord (Jerem. xxix.).
And the King went in to see the guests, and he saw there a man
who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment? But he was silent. Then the King said to the waiters : Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for many are called but few are chosen (vv. II-14).
A. Faith, therefore, will not suffice unless we take care to have on the wedding garment of charity. If faith avail not without charity, still less will money or learning compensate for the want of love for God and man.
B. He saw there a man. One thought suggested by this passage is, that few will be cast out through want of the
wedding garment, compared with the multitudes who are never to taste of the banquet in Heaven because they obstinately refuse to come when invited.
C. Many are called but few chosen. Our Lord is, in this parable, speaking to the Jews, all of whom had been called to the Church, but only a few listened to the call. He does not teach that only a few of those who have followed the call and entered the Church shall be saved. 1
THE COUNCIL-CHAMBER IN THE PALACE OF THE
And the Chief Priests and the Scribes sought to lay hands
on Him the same hour, but they feared the people, for they knew that He spoke this parable to them (St. Luke
XX. 19). Then the Pharisees going, consulted among themselves how
to ensnare Him in His speech (St. Matt. xxii. 15).
The Pharisees and the Rulers therefore are more irritated than ever on account of the impression made on the people by the fearless and weighty words of our Blessed Saviour. We may assume that to-day again was often repeated the word spoken by the servants of the Priests on a former occasion, Never did man speak like this Man (St. John vii.). Gladly would they seize Him at once and hurry Him off to their dungeons, but they are afraid of the multitude, who are won to Him because He was teaching them as one having power, and not as the Scribes (St. Mark i.). Fear of the people then is the apparent cause that restrains them. But behind this obstacle which appears on the surface, lies the real hindrance to their murderous wishes, which is the Divine decree that His hour is not yet come.
For the moment, then, His enemies can do nothing but hold another Council to see if by any means they can ensnare Him in His speech. Up till now they have no impeachment against Him. Last Sunday they said in the bitterness of their hearts, Do you see that we prevail nothing ? (St. John xii.). They are just as helpless now. They have still to begin from the very beginning to find matter of accusation before the Roman Governor.
It would appear that all the different sects or factions of Jerusalem assembled together in this Council and took part in
1 See this text explained in The Pearl of Hope, or in Holy Confidence, an extract translated from the large work of Father Rogacci, s.J., called Unum Necessarium.